Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Alison F. Garton

Abstract

Peer collaboration is a commonly used learning strategy, perceived by educators as a valuable educational activity. Studies do indicate a performance output benefit for children working collaboratively compared to children working individually. However, the longer term cognitive benefits of collaboration appear to be limited by a number of factors. It is suggested that cognitive change following peer collaboration is limited to children working with a more cognitively competent peer (or one with a different perspective), active participation and reasoned communication. This paper considers elements of Piaget's and Vygotsky's cognitive development theories in an attempt to explain some of the processes underlying peer collaboration, that may lead to cognitive change. Studies grounded in a Piagetian framework support the view that it is the cognitive conflict arising from peer interaction that leads to cognitive change. However, researchers in the Vygotskian tradition argue that cognitive change is most likely to occur when a child collaborates with a more competent partner. It is contended that the two theories are not as mutually exclusive as they are often portrayed. It appears that an important component in both theories is that cognitive change results when the interaction exposes a participant to a different knowledge source, whether it be due to a conflicting perspective (as argued by Piagetians), or a higher level of expertise (as argued by Vygotskians).

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