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Think First: Fostering Substantive Contributions in Collaborative Problem-Solving Dialogues

Celepkolu, Mehmet and Wiggins, Joseph B and Boyer, Kristy Elizabeth and McMullen, Kyla
{booktitle}, Philadelphia, PA: International Society of the Learning Sciences., 2017
Publication year: 2017


Working collaboratively holds many benefits for learners. However, varying incoming knowledge and attitudes toward collaboration present challenges and can lead to frustration for students. An important open question is how to support effective collaboration and foster equity for students with different levels of incoming preparation. In this study, we compared two collaborative instructional approaches for computer science problem solving, in which students participated in one of two conditions: The Baseline condition featured collaborative problem solving in which students worked in dyads from the beginning of the collaboration; in the other condition, called Think-First, students first worked on the problem individually for a short time and then began collaborating to produce a common solution. The results from 190 students from an introductory programming class working in 95 pair-programming teams demonstrate that this simple modification to pair programming had a significant positive effect on test scores and on substantive contributions in collaborative dialogue.