The study of collaborative learning has a relatively brief history, yet there have been notable changes in the nature of the research being undertaken in this field. Initially, the primary aim was to determine whether and when collaborative learning was more effective than learning alone and there is a substantial body of empirical evidence demonstrating that, whilst not an educational panacea, it can have positive effects of social interaction for learning. More recently, however, interest has shifted away from considering just the outcomes and products of collaborative work, towards analyzing the interactions themselves. This shift to a more process-oriented account of productive group-work has brought with it an interest in understanding the nature of productive talk and joint activity and researchers have attempted to identify interactional features which are important for learning and cognitive change. Researchers with different theoretical backgrounds and different methodological approaches have emphasized different facets of interaction with some highlighting the important role of conflict, others that of planning, negotiation, exploratory talk, transactive dialogue and so on.
The book brings together contributions from researchers, working across Europe and North America, who have interests in collaborative learning. The work presented here is united through the contributors’ shared desire to understand and promote educationally productive collaborative work, whilst investigating this in diverse ways, for example with respect to the particular contexts, learning communities and the age of the learners being studied…from Introduction