Design of support tools and knowledge building in a virtual university course: Effect of reflection and self-explanation prompts
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AbstractIn a WWW-based virtual learning environment where students and teacher are physically separated, the quantity and quality of interaction among students or with instructors have effects on learning. Lack of constructive activity is often identified as one of the major causes for poor learning. We developed support tools (prompts which support students to use self-explanation and self-monitoring strategies) and studied how support tools facilitate convergent knowledge building processes in a WWW-based virtual university engineering course. For the study, a quasi-experimental study was designed. An engineering class of a virtual university was selected as the research site and the students in the class were randomly assigned to 2 different work environments: 1) without support tools, and 2) with support tools. This study has an implication for theory that the opportunity to engage in interaction itself is not enough for students to integrate knowledge or develop/ improve the coordination of group work in an online learning environment. Students' frequent interaction with their peers is not enough either for students to integrate knowledge or develop/ improve coordination of group work in an online learning environment. The type of interaction matters, especially because convergent type of interaction facilitates students' knowledge integration.