Belongingness, CMC, and Cooperative Learning

Effects of Belongingness and Synchronicity on Face-to-Face and Computer-Mediated Constructive Controversy

Belongingness promotes motivation and achievement in face-to-face (FTF) settings, but little is known about its effects in online, computer-mediated settings. This gap is a problem for practice because belongingness may enhance online education and, for theory, because computer- mediated communication (CMC) raises boundary questions about the extent to which belongingness depends on FTF and synchronous CMC interaction. This study addresses these issues by testing whether belongingness has additive or buffering effects on constructive controversy, a cooperative learning procedure designed to create intellectual conflict among students. One hundred seventy-one undergraduates were randomly assigned to a 3 (initial belongingness: acceptance, mild rejection, control) x 3 (synchronicity: FTF, synchronous CMC, asynchronous CMC) experimental-control design. As predicted, cooperative perceptions increased under acceptance conditions, resulting in increased epistemic regulation and motivation (post-controversy belongingness, interest-value). Unexpectedly, however, mild rejection was not deleterious under all conditions, and there was only one initial belongingness X synchronicity interaction, with multiple-choice achievement scores increasing under asynchronous mild rejection conditions. Findings suggest that, in general, belongingness and synchronicity have additive effects on computer-mediated constructive controversy, and that acceptance buffers but does not offset the negative effects of asynchronous CMC. Findings also suggest that several theories may need to be modified to indicate that belongingness and synchronicity moderate predicted outcomes.


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Effects of Face-to-face and Computer-mediated Constructive Controversy on Social Interdependence, Motivation, and Achievement

Cooperative learning capitalizes on the relational processes by which peers promote learning, yet it remains unclear whether these processes operate similarly in face-to-face and online settings. The present study addresses this issue by comparing face-to-face and computer-mediated versions of constructive controversy, a cooperative learning method designed to create intellectual conflict among students. One hundred and one undergraduates were randomly assigned to a 1 (control: face-to-face) x 3 (medium: video, audio, text) x 2 (synchronicity: synchronous, asynchronous) experimental-control design. Cooperative perceptions declined and individualistic perceptions increased under asynchronous computer-mediated conditions, resulting in predicted declines in motivation (i.e., relatedness, interest, value) and academic achievement. Findings suggest that synchronicity but not medium plays an important role in computer-mediated constructive controversy. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Link to article in Journal of Educational Psychology