Computer-supported collaborative inquiry in Remote Networked Schools



État de publication: Publiée (2008 )

Lieu: Chesapeake, Canada


Résumé: This study addressed computer-supported collaborative scientific inquiries in Remote Networked Schools. Three dyads of grade 5-6 classrooms from remote locations collaborated using the knowledge-buildng tool Knowledge Forum. Customized scaffold supports embedded in the online tool were used to support student understanding and practice of an authentic inquiry process. The study studied how the use of the scaffolds could help students to understand and put into practice an authentic inquiry process, how the students' collaborative problem solving could translate into a deeper understanding of the phenomena explored and if this could lead to conceptual change. Students created notes and used the scaffold supports to support their inquiry process however without sufficient direct teacher modeling, coherent use of the scaffolds stayed low across activities. Pre- and post-test results show that the students gained a better understanding of the inquiry process, but low post-test scores suggest further need for direct teacher modeling of the inquiry process during science instruction. Content analysis of the ideas expressed by the students in two of the sites showed that students were able to generate high-level ideas especially when the directives were explanation-seeking rather than fact-seeking in nature. Teacher mediation in the online discussion tended to generate longer threads than when teachers were absent from the online environment. Unless effective collaborative conversation is already a part of the classroom culture, efforts are required to generate richer student interactions and foster deeper understanding. Recurring technical and logistical difficulties in the sites prevented teachers from concentrating on the learning objectives and should be more seriously addressed by school authorities. Evidence of conceptual change was found through micro-analysis of the students' ideas about buoyancy in the pre- and post-tests as well as in their notes showing that conceptual change is possible in this innovative collaborative learning context. Further insistence for students to complete the inquiry process is needed in order to created additional opportunities for students to express their knowledge about a scientific phenomenon and promote deeper understanding through collaboration.