How to Support Synchronous Net-Based Learning Discourses: Principles and Perspectives

  • Hans-Rüdiger Pfister
Part of the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Series book series (CULS, volume 5)


In this paper, the potential of synchronous net-based learning discourses as a special case of computer supported cooperative learning (CSCL) is analysed. Discourses among learners, or among learners and tutors, can significantly improve understanding of complex subject matter. However, net-based discourses are often suboptimal, since technical restrictions constitute barriers to an efficient exchange of knowledge. Support of net-based discourses may proceed either on the macrolevel of the overall discourse structure, or on the microlevel of single contributions. As a central microlevel activity the grounding of contributions is identified. Two approaches to assist learners to ground the discourse are discussed, and the learning protocol approach is illustrated in detail as a method to foster sufficient grounding on the microlevel in net-based learning discourses. As a generalization, a cost-benefit framework is proposed which portrays grounding activities as trade-off decisions between the conflicting goals of minimizing effort and maximizing understanding. Finally, some conclusions for the construction of learning environments designed for cooperative learning by discourse are suggested.


Common Ground Cooperative Learning Learning Goal Transactive Memory Computer Support Collaborative Learning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J. R. (2000). Cognitive psychology and its implications (5th ed.). New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  2. Ayala, G., & Yano, Y. (1998). A collaborative learning environment based on intelligent agents. Expert Systems with Applications, 14, 129–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, M., Hansen, T., Joiner, R., & Traum, D. (1999). The role of grounding in collaborative learning tasks. In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative learning: Cognitive and computational approaches (pp. 31–63). Oxford: Elsevier Science / Pergamon.Google Scholar
  4. Baker, M. J., & Lund, K. (1997). Promoting reflective interactions in CSCL environments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 13, 167–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bromme, R., & Jucks, R. (2001). Wissensdivergenz und Kommunikation: Lernen zwischen Experten und Laien im Netz. In F. W. Hesse & H. F. Friedrich (Eds.), Partizipation und Interdiction im virtuellen Seminar (pp. 1–23). Münster: Waxmann.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, A. L., & Palincsar, A. S. (1989). Guided, cooperative learning and individual knowledge acquisition. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction. Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 393–452). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Cahn, J. E., & Brennan, S. (1999). A psychological model of grounding and repair in dialog. In S. E. Brennan, A. Giboin, & D. Traum (Eds.), Proceedings of the AAAI Fall Symposium on Psychological Models of Communication in Collaborative Systems (pp. 25–33). Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, H. H. (1996). Using language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, H. H., & Brennan, S. E. (1991). Grounding in communication. In L. B. Resnick, J. M. Levine & S.D. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 127–149). Washington, DC: APA.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, H. H., & Schaefer, E. F. (1989). Contributing to discourse. Cognitive Science, 13, 259–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction (pp. 453–494). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  12. Dennis, A. R., & Valacich, J. S. (1999). Rethinking media richness: Towards a theory of media synchronicity. In R. H. Sprague (Ed.), Proceedings of the 32th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences [CD-ROM] (pp. 1–10). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society.Google Scholar
  13. Derry, S. J. (1999). A fish called peer learning: Searching for common themes. In A. M. O'Donnell & A. King (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on peer learning (pp. 197–211). Mawah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Fischer, F. (2002). Gemeinsame Wissenskonstruktion-Theoretische und methodologische Aspekte. Psychologische Rundschau, 53, 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fischer, F, & Mandl, H. (2001). Facilitating the construction of shared knowledge with graphical representation tools in face-to-face and computer-mediated scenarios. In P. Dillenbourg, A. Eurelings & K. Hakkarainen (Eds.), Proceeding of the European Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning EuroCSCL-2001 (pp. 230–236). Maastricht: The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  16. Greenberg, S., & Roseman, M. (1998). Using a room metaphor to ease transitions in groupware. Research Report 98/11/02, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Canada.Google Scholar
  17. Herring, S. (1999). Interactional coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication [Online], 4(4). Available: Scholar
  18. Hinsz, V. B., Tindale, R. S., & Vollrath, D. A. (1997). The emerging conceptualization of groups as information processors. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 43–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hron, A., Hesse, F. W., Cress, U., & Giovis, C. (2000). Implicit and explicit dialogue structuring in virtual learning groups. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 53–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jermann, P., Soller, A., & Muehlenbrock, M. (2001). From mirroring to guiding: A review of state of the art technology for supporting collaborative learning. In P. Dillenbourg, A. Eurelings & K. Hakkarainen (Eds.), Proceedings of the European Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning EuroCSCL-2001 (pp. 324–331). Maastricht, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  21. Kiesler, S., & Sproull, L. (1992). Group decision making and communication technology. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 52, 96–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. King, A. (1998). Teaching effective discourse patterns for small group learning. In R. Stevens (Ed.), Teaching in American schools (pp. 7–17). Upper saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  23. King, A. (1999). Discourse patterns for mediating peer learning. In A. M. O'Donnell & A. King (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on peer learning (pp. 87–115). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  24. Koschmann, T. (Ed.) (1996). CSCL: Theory and practice of an emerging paradigm, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  25. Luce, R. D. (1959). Individual choice behavior. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. O'Donnell, A. M. (1999). Structuring dyadic interaction through scripted cooperation. In A. M. O'Donnell & A. King (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on peer learning (pp. 179–196). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  27. O'Donnell, A. M., & Dansereau, D. F. (1992). Scripted cooperation in student dyads: A method for analyzing and enhancing academic learning and performance. In R. Hertz-Lazarowitz & N. Miller (Eds.), Interaction in cooperative groups. The theoretical anatomy of group learning (pp. 120–141). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Paek, T., & Horvitz, E. (1999). Uncertainty, utility, and misunderstanding. In S. E. Brennan, A. Giboin, & D. Traum (Eds.), Proceedings of the AAA1 Fall Symposium on Psychological Models of Communication in Collaborative Systems (pp. 85–92). Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.Google Scholar
  29. Pfister, H.-R., & Mühlpfordt, M. (2002). Supporting discourse in a synchronous learning environment: The learning protocol approach. In G. Stahl (Ed.), Computer Support for Collaborative learning: Foundations for a CSCL Community. Proceedings of CSCL2002, Boulder, Colorado (pp. 581–589). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum [On-Line]. Available: Scholar
  30. Pfister, H.-R., Müller, W., & Mühlpfordt, M. (2003). Lernprotokollunterstütztes Leraen — ein Vergleich zwischen unstrukturiertem und systemkontrolliertem diskursivem Lernen im Netz. Zeitschrift für Psychologic 211, 98–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pfister, H.-R., Schuckmann, C, Beck-Wilson, J., & Wessner, M. (1998). The metaphor of virtual rooms in the cooperative learning environment CLear. In N. Streitz, S. Konomi & H.-J. Burkhardt (Eds.), Cooperative buildings. Integrating information, organization, and architecture. Lecture notes on computer science (pp. 107–113). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  32. Pfister, H.-R., Wessner, M., Beck-Wilson, J., Miao, Y., & Steinmetz, R. (1998). Rooms, protocols, and nets: Metaphors for computer-supported cooperative learning of distributed groups. In A. Bruckman, M. Guzdial, J. L. Kolodner & A. Ram (Eds.), Proceedings of ICSL 98, International Conference of the Learning Sciences 1998 (pp. 242–248). Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in education (AACE).Google Scholar
  33. Pfister, H.-R., Wessner, M., & Beck-Wilson, J. (1999). Soziale und kognitive Orientierung in einer computer-gestützten Lernumgebung. In U. Arend, E. Eberleh & K. Pitschke (Eds.), Software-Ergonomie ‘99. Design von Informationswelten (pp. 265–274). Stuttgart: Teubner.Google Scholar
  34. Plötzner, R., Dillenbourg, P., Preier, M., & Traum, D. (1999). Learning by explaining to oneself and to others. In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative learning: Cognitive and computational approaches (pp. 103–121). Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  35. Reimann, P., & Zumbach, J. (2001). Design, Diskurs und Reflexion als zentrale Elemente virtueller Seminare. In F. Hesse & F. Friedrich (Eds.), Partizipation und Interaktion im virtuellen Seminar (pp.135–163). München: Waxmann.Google Scholar
  36. Riefer, D. M., & Batchelder, W. H. (1988). Multinomial modeling and the measurement of cognitive processes. Psychological Review, 95, 318–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roseman, M., & Greenberg, S. (1996). TeamRooms: Network places for cooperation. Proceedings of the ACM 1996 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW96), 325–333.Google Scholar
  38. Shneiderman, B. (1998). Designing the User Interface (3rd ed.). Reading MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  39. Slavin, R. E. (1995). Cooperative learning: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  40. Soller, A., Goodman, B., Linton, F., & Gaimari, R. (1998). Promoting effective peer interaction in an intelligent collaborative learning environment. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems. San Antonio, Texas, 186–195.Google Scholar
  41. Soller, A., & Lesgold, A. (2000). Knowledge acquisition for adaptive collaborative learning environments. In M. Bauer & C. Rich (Eds.), Learning how to do things. Papers from the AAA1 Fall Symposium (pp. 57–60). North Falmouth, MA. Technical Report.Google Scholar
  42. Sweller, J., van Merriënboer, J., & Paas, F. (1998). Cognitive architecture and instructional design. Educational Psychology Review, 10, 251–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Traum, D. R. (1998). On Clark and Schaefer's contribution model and its applicability to human-computer collaboration. COOP'98 Workshop # 1, The Use of Herbert H. Clark's Models of Language Use for the Design of Cooperative Systems, On-line Working Notes, 1998. Scholar
  44. Traum, D. R. (1999). Computational models of grounding in collaborative systems. Working Notes of AAAI Fall Symposium on Psychological Models of Communication, 124–131.Google Scholar
  45. Traum, D. R., & Dillenbourg, P. (1998). Towards a normative model of grounding in collaboration. Proceedings of the ESSLLI98 workshop on Mutual Knowledge, Common Ground and Public Information, 1–5.Google Scholar
  46. Wegner, D. M. (1987). Transactive memory: A contemporary analysis of the group mind. In B. Mullen & G. R. Goethals (Eds.), Theories of group behavior (pp. 185–208). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  47. Weinberger, A., Fischer, F., & Mandl, H. (2002). Fostering computer supported collaborative learning with cooperation scripts and scaffolds. In G. Stahl (Ed.), Computer Support for Collaborative Learning: Foundations for a CSCL Community. Proceedings of CSCL 2002 (pp. 573–574). Hillsdale: Erlbaum (e-document).Google Scholar
  48. Winograd, T., & Flores, F. (1986). Understanding computers and cognition: A new foundation for design. Norwood: Ablex.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Rüdiger Pfister

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations