Topics: Educational psychology, Distance education, Education Pages: 23 (7761 words) Published: June 12, 2013
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Computers & Education 51 (2008) 109–128

The influence of students and teachers characteristics on the efficacy of face-to-face and computer supported collaborative learning Andrea Solimeno
a b


, Minou Ella Mebane b, Manuela Tomai a, Donata Francescato a

` University of Roma La Sapienza, Facolta di Psicologia 1, Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Roma, Italy ` University of Roma La Sapienza, Facolta di Psicologia 2, Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Roma, Italy

Received 21 December 2006; received in revised form 21 March 2007; accepted 22 April 2007

Abstract In this paper we compared the efficacy of face-to-face and computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) in increasing academic knowledge and professional competences. We also explored how students’ personality characteristics and learning strategies and teachers’ characteristics were associated with better learning outcomes in online or face-to-face contexts. One hundred and seventy students participated in 10 community psychology seminars, five online and five faceto-face. Academic and professional learning increased for participants in both settings. Tutors’ characteristics did not influence students’ learning. Students who performed better in online and in face-to-face contexts differed in some psychological variables and in their learning strategies. Overall results show that asynchronous collaborative learning online can increase professional competences normally learnt only in small face-to-face educational settings, and that CSCL can be used to provide innovative educational opportunities that fit particular needs of students with low anxiety, high problem solving efficacy, who have time management problems in their learning strategies. Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Cooperative/collaborative learning; Evaluation methodologies; Teaching/learning strategies; Personality traits; Asynchronous communication

1. Introduction Up until the late 1980s most experiments on computer-supported education of the first and second generation were based on a solo-learner model, and the opportunities to individualize learning processes were supposed to be the crucial feature of computer-aided instruction. Instead, more recently Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) has attracted the attention of experts of different disciplines because it enables *

Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 06 49917554; fax: +39 06 68806927. E-mail address: (A. Solimeno).

0360-1315/$ - see front matter Ó 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2007.04.003


A. Solimeno et al. / Computers & Education 51 (2008) 109–128

both independent as well as group learning. CSCL is based on the contributions of cooperative and constructivist learning theories, which focus on social interdependence and maintain that students consolidate their learning also by teaching one another (Alavi, 1994; Benbunan-Fich & Hiltz, 1999; Harasim, 1990; Hass, 1996; Hiltz, 1994; Johnson & Johnson, 1989; Olson, 1994; Ragan, 1996; Trending, 1997). The application of cooperative and constructivist models online was made possible by the new technologies offered by software platforms, which include multiple communication modalities that can facilitate social interaction between teacher and students, and among students (Anderson, Rourke, Archer, & Garrison, 2001; Aviv, 2000; Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000; Kanuka, 2002; Katz, 2002; Molinari, 2004; Moore, 1991; Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 1999). Computer technologies have been configured to facilitate both collaborative learning (Ligorio, 2001) and collaborative argumentation (de Vries, Lund, & Baker, 2002), as well as a variety of other knowledge-building methods that emphasize collaboration (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1996). E-Learning has been described as the use of electronic technology to deliver, support and...
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