Journal of the Learning Sciences Volume 11, Number 1, ISSN 1050-8406
Epistemic dialogues, involving explanation and argumentation, have been recognized as potential vehicles for conceptual understanding. Although the role of dialogue in learning has received much attention, the problem of creating situations in which students engage in epistemic dialogue has only begun to be addressed. This article highlights the set of factors that must be taken into account in designing a computer-supported collaborative learning situation that encourages students to discuss scientific notions. These factors include the choice of the domain issue, the activities proposed to students, and the role of technology. We describe the design of CONNECT, an integrated environment and task sequence for the collaborative confrontation, negotiation, and construction of text. Results are then presented from a study in which students individually wrote an interpretation of a sound phenomenon, were matched in dyads so as to maximize semantic differences between their texts, and then collaboratively discussed and wrote common texts across the network using CONNECT. We show how careful engineering of the CONNECT environment favors the occurrence of epistemic dialogue and creates opportunities for conceptual understanding. The discussion centers on why these opportunities might be missed, as well as on the conditions required for students to exploit them.
de Vries, E., Lund, K. & Baker, M. (2002). Computer-Mediated Epistemic Dialogue: Explanation and Argumentation as Vehicles for Understanding Scientific Notions. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(1), 63-103.
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