On 23 September Hannie defended her PhD entitled “Collaboration and co-Construction - Exploring and supporting collaborative scientific discovery learning with computer simulations." The committee included Kaleidoscope members.
From left to right: Kaleidoscope Scientific Coordinator Nicolas Balacheff, Prof. Jules Pieters (Twente, KAL), Prof. Betty Collis (Twente), Prof. Ton de Jong (Twente, KAL), Prof. Gellof Kanselaar (Utrecht University), Hanny Gijlers, Prof. Hubert Coonen (Dean, Twente), Dr. Wouter van Joolingen (Twente, KAL).
Recently on September the 23rd the public defense of my PhD thesis entitled “Collaboration and co-Construction - Exploring and supporting collaborative scientific discovery learning with computer simulations” took place. The theme of my thesis is related to the domain of the Kaleidoscope network and more specifically to the Special Interest Groupson Computer-Supported Inquiry Learning and Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. A number of researchers from the Kaleidoscope network participated in the committee.
The goal of this thesis was to investigate whether it was possible to support the collaborative scientific discovery learning process through tools within the learning environment.
Prof. Dr. Ton de Jong (Kaleidoscope member) was my supervisor and promoter. In the committee included Kaleidoscope members Nicolas Balacheff (Kaleidoscope Scientific Coordinator), Paul Kirschner (Open University Heerlen), Wouter van Joolingen and Jules Pieters (University of Twente).
Computer supported Scientific discovery learning in a simulation environment is a highly self directed way of learning. Research on scientific discovery learning with simulations indicates that students are not always capable to direct their own learning processes and find it difficult to induce information form a simulation environment. Various instructional measures and tools have been developed to overcome the problems students experience during scientific discovery learning. These tools mostly have been developed for discovery by individual students. However instead of or in addition to individual tools, collaboration with another student might be a natural way of support during scientific discovery learning. In a collaborative learning setting plans have to be made explicit and the construction of knowledge (reasoning, theories, and ideas) has to be explained in a way that is understandable for the partners in the collaborative learning group. This collaborative process, however also needs support. The research presented in the thesis concentrates on supporting collaborative discovery learning.
The general conclusion that can be drawn is that peer collaboration has the potential to guide students during their discovery learning process. However, we found that in order for students to benefit from collaboration it is important that students externalize their thoughts and ideas. Within the PhD project there tools were developed to help students express and share domain related ideas. Students were supported by 1) shared proposition table, 2) shared proposition scratchpad, (expression builder) 3) shared concept mapping tool. Students using the shared proposition table and the concept mapping tool outperformed their peers in who worked with the shared proposition scratchpad or with the unsupported version of the learning environment.