Publications & Resources

Using Group Collaboration as a Window Into Students’ Cognitive Processes

Aug 1995

Noreen M. Webb, Kariane Nemer, Alexander Chizhik, and Brenda Sugrue

This study used group collaboration to determine (a) whether students’ verbalizations during group discussion revealed important information about their cognitive processes, (b) the degree to which individual student comments matched their performance on an individual test, and (c) how their comments during the group discussion helped to clarify their responses on the individual test. The results showed that analyzing the student comments was a very useful source of information about students’ thinking. For example, more than half of the students gave evidence of their understanding or misunderstanding during group discussion and many of these gave different information during group discussion than they gave on their individual test, revealing either more or less understanding of the scientific concepts being measured. Analysis of student comments during group discussion was especially helpful for those students who provided little or no information about their thinking processes on the individual test and for those students who gave incorrect answers on the test. The study also showed that more than half of the students who incorrectly answered questions on the individual test demonstrated greater understanding of the concepts during the group discussion.

Webb, N. M., Nemer, K., Chizhik, A., & Sugrue, B. (1995). Using group collaboration as a window into students’ cognitive processes (CSE Report 404). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).