Fostering Student Cognition in Computer-Supported Online Collaborative Learning Environment

  • Khe Foon HewEmail author
  • Seng Chee Tan
  • Wing Sum Cheung
Part of the Educational Media and Technology Yearbook book series (EMTY, volume 36)


This chapter discusses one of the key research foci of the Learning Sciences and Technologies academic group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Based on our empirical research, we describe two vignettes that examined student cognition in computer-supported collaborative learning environment. We define student cognition as students exhibited critical thinking level and knowledge building in online discussions. In the first vignette, we describe certain discussion guidelines, as well as student facilitation techniques that could help foster in-depth levels of critical thinking in online discussion forums. In the second vignette, we examine the levels of knowledge building demonstrated by students and how these levels might be influenced by the nature of the task or activity undertaken by the students.


Critical Thinking Online Discussion Knowledge Building Online Forum Computer Support Collaborative Learn 
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.


  1. Bereiter, C. (1994). Constructivism, socioculturalism, and Popper’s World 3. Educational Researcher, 23(7), 21–23.Google Scholar
  2. Bielaczyc, K., & Collins, A. (1999). Learning communities in classrooms: A reconceptualization of educational practice. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models (Vol. II, pp. 269–291). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  3. Burt, M. T., Grady, M., & McMann, G. (1994). Interaction analysis of an inter-university computer conference. Paper presented at the distance learning research conference, College Station, TX.Google Scholar
  4. Chai, C. S., & Tan, S. C. (2009). Professional development of teachers for computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) through knowledge building. Teacher College Records, 111(5), 1296–1327.Google Scholar
  5. Cheong, M. C., & Cheung, W. S. (2008). Online discussion and critical thinking skills: A case study in a Singapore secondary school. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(5), 556–573.Google Scholar
  6. Cheung, W. S., & Hew, K. F. (2006). Examining students’ creative and critical thinking and student to student interactions in an asynchronous online discussion environment: A Singapore case study. Asia-Pacific Cybereducation Journal, 2(2). Retrieved June 11, 2010, from
  7. Cheung, W., & Hew, K. (2007). Use of ground rules and guidelines in online discussion: A case study. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of world conference on educational multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications 2007 (pp. 2753–2758). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.Google Scholar
  8. De Wever, B., Schellens, T., Valcke, M., & Van Keer, H. (2006). Content analysis schemes to analyze transcripts of online asynchronous discussion groups: A review. Computers and Education, 46, 6–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duphorne, P. L., & Gunawardena, C. N. (2005). The effect of three computer conferencing designs on critical thinking skills of nursing students. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19(1), 37–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., et al. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2), 412–433. Retrieved March 20, 2007, from Scholar
  11. Gunawardena, C., Lowe, C., & Anderson, T. (1997). Analysis of a global online debate and the development of an interaction analysis model for examining social construction of knowledge in computer conferencing. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 17(4), 397–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2003). Evaluating the participation and quality of thinking of pre-service teachers in an asynchronous online discussion environment: Part II. International Journal of Instructional Media, 30(4), 355–366.Google Scholar
  13. Hew, K. F., Cheung, W. S., & Jumain, S. N. (2010). Critical thinking in asynchronous online discussions: Examining the role of the student facilitator. In Z. Abas et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Global Learn Asia Pacific 2010 (pp. 4210–4215). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.Google Scholar
  14. Jamaludin, A., & Quek, C. L. (2006). Using asynchronous online discussions in primary school project work. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 22(1), 64–87.Google Scholar
  15. Kanuka, H., & Anderson, T. (1998). Online social interchange, discord, and knowledge construction. The Journal of Distance Education, 13(1), 57–74. Retrieved September 30, 2008, from Scholar
  16. Khine, M. S., Yeap, L. L., & Lok, A. T. C. (2003). The quality of message ideas, thinking and interaction in an asynchronous CMC environment. Educational Media International, 40(1/2), 115–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lazonder, A. W., Wilhelm, P., & Ootes, S. A. W. (2003). Using sentence openers to foster student interaction in computer-mediated learning environments. Computers and Education, 41, 291–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maor, D. (2010). Examining cognitive attributes in student-teacher and student-student online interactions. In Z. Abas et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Global Learn Asia Pacific 2010 (pp. 4247–4252). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.Google Scholar
  19. Marra, R., Moore, J., & Klimczak, A. (2004). Content analysis of online discussion forums: A comparative analysis of protocols. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52, 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McLoughlin, C., & Luca, J. (2000). Cognitive engagement and higher order thinking through computer conferencing: We know why but do we know how? In A. Herrmann & M. M. Kulski (Eds.), Flexible futures in tertiary teaching. Proceedings of the 9th annual teaching learning forum, 2–4 February 2000. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. Retrieved June 11, 2010, from
  21. Pena-Shaff, J. B., & Nicolls, C. (2004). Analyzing student interactions and meaning construction in computer bulletin board discussions. Computer and Education, 42, 243–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Popper, K. R. (1972). Objective knowledge: An evolutionary approach. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  23. Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1), 68–88.Google Scholar
  24. Scardamalia, M. (2002). Collective cognitive responsibility for the advancement of knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.), Liberal education in a knowledge society (pp. 76–98). Chicago: Open Court.Google Scholar
  25. Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2003). Knowledge building. In J. W. Guthrie (Ed.), Encyclopedia of education (2nd ed., pp. 1370–1373). New York: Macmillan Reference.Google Scholar
  26. Schellens, T., Keer, H. V., & Valcke, M. (2005). The impact of role assignment on knowledge construction in asynchronous discussion groups. Small Group Research, 36(6), 704–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stahl, G. (2004). Building collaborative knowing: Elements of a social theory of CSCL. In J. W. Strijbos, P. A. Kirschner, & R. L. Martens (Eds.), What we know about CSCL: And implementing it in higher education (pp. 53–86). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Thomas, J. (2002). Smart E-classrooms, traditional classrooms and critical thinking. In G. Richards (Ed.), Proceedings of world conference on e-learning in corporate, government, healthcare, and higher education 2002 (pp. 2288–2291). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.Google Scholar
  29. Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  30. Yang, Y. T. C., Newby, T. J., & Bill, R. L. (2005). Using Socratic questioning to promote critical thinking skills through asynchronous discussion forums in distance learning environments. American Journal of Distance Education, 19(3), 163–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Yang, Y. T. C., Newby, T., & Bill, R. (2008). Facilitating interactions through structured web-based bulletin boards: A quasi-experimental study on promoting learners’ critical thinking skills. Computers and Education, 50(4), 1572–1585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khe Foon Hew
    • 1
    Email author
  • Seng Chee Tan
    • 1
  • Wing Sum Cheung
    • 1
  1. 1.Learning Sciences and Technologies, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations