What does it mean? Students' procedural and conceptual problem solving in a CSCL environment designed within the field of science education

This article discusses the relationship between procedural and conceptual problem solving in a computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environment designed within the field of science education. The contribution of this article, and our understanding of this phenomenon, is anchored in our socio-cultural interpretation, and that implies distinctive inputs for the design and re-design of these kinds of learning environments. We discuss institutional aspects linked to the school as a curriculum deliverer, as well as to the presentation of the knowledge domain and the construction of the CSCL environment. The data is gathered from a design experiment in a science setting in a secondary school, and video data is used to perform an interaction analysis. More specifically, we follow a group of four secondary school students who solve a biological problem in a computer-based 3D model supported by a website. Our findings are clear in the sense that the procedural types of problem solving tend to dominate the students' interactions, while conceptual knowledge construction is only present where it is strictly necessary to carry out the problem solving. Based on our analyses, we conclude that this can be explained partly by how the knowledge domain is presented and how the CSCL environment is designed, but that the main reason is linked to the institutional aspects related to the school as curriculum deliverer where its target is to secure that the students actually solve problems that are predefined in the syllabus list. We argue that this affords some particular challenges, linked to making conceptual knowledge constructions in science education explicit in the CSCL environment, and to encouraging the teachers and the school as a curriculum deliverer to give this kind of knowledge construction a prioritised value.

Krange, I., Ludvigsen, S.
International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Vol. 3(1), 25-51.
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