Computer Supported Collaboration: Is the Transfer of Cognitive Structures Mediated by Mode of Communication?
Description: The objective of this study was to observe evidence of structural transfer among subjects in a group problem-solving activity and determine whether mode of collaborative technology or use of a priming agent affected the nature of transferred structures. Evidence for structural transfer is found in three theoretical perspectives: organizational ditransitive (linguistic) verb structures, adaptive structuration theory, and mental model transfer theory. Dependent variables included various grammatical structures and coefficients derived from pretest and posttest scores on David Kolb's Learning Styles Inventory, modified for the experiment. The combination of changes in grammatical frequencies and learning style may suggest that one or more media or the priming agent may affect structural transfer. Results indicate that groups using the GroupSystems collaborative technology produced less overall linguistic content than did subjects using a generic chat system, but employed more complex language as indicated by frequency of the organizational ditransitive verb structure. Also, subjects supplied with an organization chart (priming agent) during the group problem-solving session experienced greater change on the learning styles inventory than did those participating in the session without the chart. These findings suggest that mode of communication and use of priming agents may contribute positively or negatively to the transfer of structures among group members. Researchers, collaborative system designers, organizational leaders, trainers & educators, and frequent collaborative technology system end-users should be aware of these potential affects. Suggestions for future research are provided. Relationship of theoretical foundations of structural transfer to constructivism is discussed.
Date: May 2002
Creator: Bandy, Kenneth E.