Collaborating to learn: Hope for the best but prepare for the worst?
Collaboration enables humans to tackle complex tasks but also strongly influences the development of the individual mind - cognition, motivation and emotion. However, synergy is not for free: It is not enough to put students or professionals together and expect that they work and learn as teams; education plays a major role in developing the skills of collaboration. In recent years, advances have been achieved in research with respect to how collaborative skills can be effectively facilitated and how collaboration can be employed to enhance knowledge and skills in different subject matter fields. This talk will first introduce basic functions and mechanisms of collaborative learning. Based on recent studies and meta-analyses I will identify conditions of successful and less successful uses of collaboration to facilitate learning. A main focus will be on the role of technology in support of collaborative learning. Consequences for the use collaborative learning with and without technology in secondary and higher education will be discussed.
Frank Fischer earned his doctorate in Psychology in 1997 from the University of Munich. He was an assistant professor for Applied Cognitive Psychology and Media Psychology at the University of Tübingen and held a professorship for Instructional Psychology at the University of Erfurt (2002-2003). From 2004-2006 he was an associate professor for Research on Learning and Instruction at the University of Tübingen and at the Knowledge Media Research Center. Since October 2006, he has been a full professor of Educational Science and Educational Psychology at the University of Munich. He served as Dean of Faculty. Since 2009, he is the speaker of the Munich Center of the Learning Sciences, an interdisciplinary collaboration of more than 30 research groups focusing on advancing research on learning „from cortex to community“. He was President of the International Society of the Learning Sciences. His research focuses on scaffolding and guidance for collaborative learning, as well as inquiry and simulation-based learning. Central questions are how dialog, cognition, and instruction interact in technology-enhanced learning environments, and how characteristics of the dialog are associated with the advancement of knowledge and skills of collaborative learners. With respect to knowledge and skills, his research focuses on scientific reasoning and argumentation, as well as diagnostic reasoning. He serves on the editorial board of several scholarly journals, including Learning & Instruction, Journal of the Learning Sciences, Educational Psychologist, and the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative learning. He is an associate editor for the American Educational Research Journal. He has published more than 100 articles and chapters, and co-edited 6 books and special issues of scientific journals.