Linn M. C. & Burbules N. C. (1993) Construction of knowledge and group learning. In: Tobin K. (ed.) The practice of constructivism in science education. AAAS Press, Washington DC: 91–119.
Construction of knowledge and group learning.
In: Tobin K. (ed.) The practice of constructivism in science education. AAAS Press, Washington DC: 91–119.
Excerpt: In this chapter, we argue that advocacy of group learning as a mechanism for knowledge construction oversimplifies important issues concerning the social structure of groups, the goals of individuals in groups, and the diverse nature of knowledge construction. The weight of evidence supports the conclusion that knowledge is constructed (e g., Eylon and Linn 1988), but the evidence on the process of co-construction is much less definitive. Although most research groups start with the premise that social interaction facilitates cognitive development (Azmitia and Perlmutter 1989; Brown and Palincsar 1989; Doise and Mugny 1984; Slavin 1983), they disagree about how and when group learning fosters effective knowledge construction (Cohen 1986; Damon and Phelps 1989; El shout, in press; Fraser 1989; Kulik and Kulik 1989; Salomon and Globerson 1989; Sehoenfeld 1989; Webb 1989). Our goal here is to define the merits of group learning more carefully. We will examine specific student needs and learning goals in terms of group learning. We will point out that co-construction of knowledge in group learning is but one of many constructive mechanisms. We will identify when group learning may be less effective than autonomous learning for certain students or for specific educational goals. Furthermore, we will argue that, considering the diverse goals we pursue in education, group learning may be helpful in attaining some of them but counterproductive in attaining others.