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Biography of Speaker

Frank Fischer is a full professor of Educational Science and Educational Psychology at the University of Munich. He is the speaker of the Munich Centre of the Learning Sciences, an interdisciplinary collaboration of more than 30 research groups focusing on advancing research on learning. He served as President of the International Society of the Learning Sciences and is a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on how people learn to collaborate, and engage in scientific reasoning and argumentation, as well as in diagnostic reasoning. 

Settings include computer-supported collaborative learning and simulation-based learning environments in secondary school and in higher education. With respect to guidance he is interested in how scaffolding and scripts can make social interaction more beneficial for learning. He was an associate editor for the American Educational Research Journal and is on the editorial boards of several international journals, including Learning and Instruction, Journal of the Learning Sciences and Educational Psychologist. He has edited 13 books and special issues and published more than 120 journal articles and book chapters. 

Discussion Points of Talk

Human collaboration is essential in many professions. Humans have exceptional potentials to collaborate. Collaboration not only enables humans to tackle complex and dynamic tasks but is also crucially influencing the development of individual cognition, motivation and emotion. However, education plays a major role in developing the potentials of collaboration; it is not enough to put students or professionals together and expect them to work as teams. This talk will highlight some basic functions and mechanisms of collaborative learning. In addition, this talk will address some advances 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 domains, including diagnostic reasoning and scientific argumentation. Based on recent findings of empirical studies and meta-analyses conditions of successful (and less successful) uses of collaboration to facilitate learning will be outlined. A specific focus will be on the role of simulations and technology in support of collaborative learning. Consequences for employing collaboration and collaborative learning in higher education will be discussed. 

There are some social process of learning like explaining 

  • Explainer learn more than receivers of explanations 
  • Self-generated solution better than using other generated solutions 
  • Receivers of explanations benefit most if they apply the new knowledge themselves Social processes predictive for learning
  • Thought provoking questions 
  • Go beyond factual and comprehension questions 
  • Requires the individual to process and go beyond the given material
  • Create the need e.g. to generate examples to create alternative perspective of solutions to generalize to justify or to apply. 

Resolving cognitive discrepancies 

  • Becoming aware of different and potentially incompatible ideas or positions in social interaction 
  • The need to resolve this socio cognitive conflict 
  • The real motor of collaborative learning 


  • Argumentation as process of resolving socio cognitive conflicts 
  • Claim and counter claim can trigger evidence based reasoning 
  • Learners need to process the learning material with high level cognitive processing including drawing conclusions and integrating argument and counter argument into a synthesis. 

Feedback on performance 

  • Better if criteria based 
  • If feedback comes from several peers 
  • Should be process rather than an outcome for more complex tasks 

Modelling of cognition 

  • Learners who are good in questioning explaining, elaborating etc. are ideal cognitive models in collaborative learning 
  • Very effective for cognition and meta cognition 
  • Thinking an aloud or other forms of externalising cognition can be effective. There are two basic forms of pedagogical intervention in CSCL 

Support self-regulation 

  1. Cognitive awareness tool 
  2. Social awareness tools 

Shape interaction 

  1. Collaboration scripts 
  2. Community building environments 
  • So for CL to be effective, not any kind of interaction is equally instrumental: interactive activities I>C>A>P 
  • Effective social processes: explaining asking thoughts provoking questions resolving cognitive discrepancies argumentation modelling cognition peer feedback 
  • Collaboration has very high potential for interactivity. However this potential is often not realised without additional support. 
  • Sometimes simple support groups self-regulation with awareness tools can be enough
  • Often however more is needed especially when collaboration skills are not yet at the disposal of the learners 
  • Targeting the scene level proved to be most effective for domain learning
  • For strategy learning including collaboration skills script let scene and play level need to be addressed 

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