Collaborative Learning and Interest

Motivation: Interest

Often, researchers are willing to look at motivation compared to interest. This is because motivation is believed to be controllable: it is something that can be increased or decreased with appropriate interventions. Interest, on the other hand, is something that seems much more elusive. Either a person is interested in something, or not. “How do you create interest in something where no interest initially exists?” To answer this question is to capture the golden goose.

The first reading (Wlodowski & Ginsberg, 1995) addresses many aspects of motivation, including interest. Additionally, this reading continues with the theme of catering for cultural diversity. It attempts to discuss how teachers and facilitators of adult learning might address the issue of motivation in a culturally responsive way.

The next set of readings explores the concept of interest in different contexts. The first article (Sansone, Weir, Harpster & Morgan, 1992) looks at interest in relation to SRL. Higgins and colleagues (2010) looks at how interest may change over time. And the third reading (Pressick-Kilbourn & Walker, 2002) look at the social element of interest. Again, there is not enough time for every student to read all of the articles, so we will divide the responsibility amongst ourselves.


Wlodowski, R. J., & Ginsberg, M. (1995). Understanding relationships between culture and motivation to learn. In Diversity and motivation: Culturally responsive teaching (extract pp. 19–41). San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.

Sansone, C., Weir, C., Harpster, L., & Morgan, C. (1992). Once a boring task always a boring task? Interest as a self-regulatory mechanism. Journal of personality and social psychology, 63(3), 379–390.

Higgins, E. T., Cesario, J., Hagiwara, N., Spiegel, S., & Pittman, T. (2010). Increasing or decreasing interest in activities: The role of regulatory fit. Journal of personality and social psychology, 98(4), 559–572.

Pressick-Kilbourn, K. & Walker, R. (2002). The social construction of interest in a learning community. In D. M. McInerney & S. Van Etten (Eds.), Research on socio-cultural influences on motivation and learning: Vol. 2 (pp. 153–182). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Introduction: Collaborative Learning

Continuing with the theme that learning occurs within a social context, this topic examines some types of formal collaborative learning. Topic 7E – Working with Groups gives further practical suggestions for successful collaborative learning. The first reading (Bonk & Cunningham, 1998) links the concept of collaborative learning with the use of technology and raises many of the concepts that are covered in this unit.

The second reading (Carruthers, 1993) refers to a specific form of collaborative learning: mentoring. This comprehensive reading explains (a) the origins of the term “mentor” and (b) issues to consider when implementing mentoring as a strategy in the workplace.


Bonk, C. J., & Cunningham, D. J. (1998). Searching for learner-centred, constructivist, and sociocultural components of collaborative educational learning tools. In C. J. Bonk & K. S. King (Eds.), Electronic collaborators: Learner-centred technologies for literacy, apprenticeship and discourse (pp. 25–50). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Carruthers, J. (1993). The principles and practice of mentoring. In B. J. Caldwell & E. M. A. Carter (Eds.), The return of the mentor: Strategies for workplace learning (pp. 9–24). London: The Falmer Press.

LMS #1: Models of Information Processing

Bonk and Cunningham (1998), following Cunningham, describe three models of the mind before introducing their theoretical perspective on computer-supported collaborative learning:

a. The mind as a [serial processing] computer, where learning occurs through information processing.

b. The mind as a [parallel processing] brain, where learning occurs through experiental growth and pattern recognition.

c. The mind a [network of roots] rhizome, where learning occurs a sociocultural dialogue.

Provide examples of computer-assisted learning for each of these models of mind, and justify your allocation. Do the example technologies support or detract from learning?



I'm going to suggest a hypothetical ICT support that would straddle #1 & #2.

Based on the scaffolding example I presented in class (week 8...the dreaded mathematics problem), and ICT platform could be used to progress students through the steps of filling in the table until the pattern is recognised.

It does build on the serial nature (one step before the next), but the final product is achieved only with the parallel processing (connecting to patterns).

The ICT could help automate, but the most obvious distraction would be if something goes wrong with the code. (Not surprisingly, even the smallest little glitch could derail the entire process.)


How about Wikipedia (and Wikiquote, and Wikibooks etc). Is this sequential learning, parallel learning, or socio-cultural?


a.The mind as a [serial processing] computer, where learning occurs through information processing.

An example I would use here is the early formats of distance education. I have completed 2 degrees (and soon to be a post grad in Education) by distance education. My previous experiences with DE were isolation and loads of self motivation to keep going. There was no feedback other than on assignments no contact with other students. You learnt by processing scores of written work and completing the necessary tests and assignments. It was highly cognitive and not so much social!!

b. The mind as a [parallel processing] brain, where learning occurs through experiental growth and pattern recognition.

An example here would be learning Microsoft software packages. These are either presented as part of a class with a tutor facilitating the class or on line. In both cases you are provided with reasonably meaningful examples to learn from and you progress from basic through to intermediate stages of development. You complete each example and gain skills and practical knowledge that you can then use in the workplace.

c. The mind a [network of roots] rhizome, where learning occurs a sociocultural dialogue.

An example would be the online unit we are currently enrolled in (and working very hard at). The social cognitive aspects include the requirement to participate in online discussions aimed at sharing our knowledge and getting to know each other a little bit. We collaborate through discussion forums on each chapter and have the opportunity to respond and review each other's work. This essentially humanises the process of distance education, something that was missing in my previous 2 enrolments.

As technology has increased (I note that Bonk And Cunningham's paper is 15 years old) the ability to increase the social interaction and collaboration of students learning via computer assisted programs is huge. Recognising the social needs of people in their endeavours to learn means that computer advances in education must take these into account otherwise the depth and value of the learning is less


Re: a) "An example I would use here is the early formats of distance education."

Agreed, 100%! I remember those days quite well. Murdoch University was considered quite advanced in the 80s, as it was bold enough not just send out course manuals, but even cassette tapes of the lectures. But as you say, this was still an example of sequential knowledge, as any standard textbook is.

Re: b) An example here would be learning Microsoft software packages."

Another good example, and of course, something which should apply for all operating systems and application suites, although I will suggest that the parallel processing model isn't used as well in computing training courses as it should be. Each module of knowledge should also contribute to a wider schema overall. We may recall Svinicki's (2004) emphasis on structured knowledge in week 3 - teaching should always be like this, providing the opportunity to locate each part of knowledge into a wider and structured system.

Re: c) "An example would be the online unit we are currently enrolled in (and working very hard at)."

Yes, and for all the reasons suggested.

As you also correctly point out there has been a significant move towards type (c) models of information processing.


a/ Earlier versions of linked computer terminals where a student had the opportunity to listen to pre-recorded information on a particular topic or subject could be an example here. The first computers installed in educational institutions were used purely for instruction and processing information.

b/ Most on-line learning course or training class where accessing course content is possible helps with growth and pattern recognition. Learning programs on I-pads are used in schools today to gradually introduce students to technology and parallel processing; therefore growth and pattern recognition.

c/ Web pages and web cams involve learning through social interactions, and here there is an infinity of connections with and within the social cultural environment.

Lev, I would suggest that the Wiki examples suggested could be examples of all three models. Wiki can be used for individuals to purely to process information, it can be used for parallel learning and is also socio-cultural??? What do you suggest??


Thanks for the excellent examples, and especially with the suggestion of real-time social rich media content (e.g., webcams, videoconferencing) with the third group. Whilst bandwidth heavy, such technologies will be much better at approximating face-to-face environments.

The suggestion of the various wikimedia packages ("wiki" itself is just a website content-generation framework), such as Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikiquotes etc, was raised, as you suggest, as an example of all three.

As serial processing, an article can be read from beginning to end.

As parallel processing, an article can be read in parallel with the hyperlinks attached to it, thus placing it in a structured situation.

What is perhaps less well-known is the behind-the-scenes socio-cultural learning experience, where debates about content occur. A summary of discussion can be found in the "talk" page of each Wikipedia article for example. It is in this environment that one learns from others and their knowledge.


LMS #2: Mentor Relationships as Collaborative Learning?

Carruthers (1993) provides a history, role, and some empirical measures of the mentor-protégé relationship, as facilitating adult learning. Given that this is a top-down dyad relationship, could it ever be described as an example of collaborative learning? Is it possible for to have a mentor-protégé network of equals? If not, should the mentor-protégé be abandoned?

(All agreed that it was collaborative, and some suggested even equals. A distinction between physical and intellectual skills)

The athletes example is a very good one, and certainly a range of other physical mentoring relationships have an interesting component.

In intellectual mentoring, knowledge is at a certain level and supplemented by cognitive ability of the mentor and therefore remains of a total high skill.

With physical activities the physical ability of the mentor had declined, and so has their overall skill. What they are teaching is knowledge of a skill that they are no longer necessarily competent in. Indeed, not to put too much of an emphasis on it, an athletic mentor for high-jumping could be in a wheelchair, and yet still an effective trainer.

(I'd like to mention in passing that a lot of my thought on this distinction come from a lifetime of playing table-top roleplaying games. About as geeky as one can get, really)

(Good example by Amelia)

I think that any relationship can facilitate collaborative learning. A (very simplistic) example of a mentor/protege relationship is parents and children. The parents (as mentors) teach the children about the world, and this interaction and socialisation affects their world/life views and can influence how the children form and conduct relationships in the future, especially in the workplace. Once the child/teenager/young adult reaches a certain point in their lives they may move into a different style of relationship with their parents (similar to when a protege approaches the same skill or knowledge level as a mentor) and find a more equal balance with their parents as people/friends, rather than just as parents/authority figures. People often talk about needing to be or being a role model for their children, which I suppose is a large part of being a mentor to someone. The mentor shares their knowledge and experience, so that the protege has that information to draw on. That could be a possible reason why a protege sometimes surpasses the mentor, they know what doesn't work and what not to do from the mentor's previous experience. I think these relationships will always be useful in the workplace, and I agree with previous comments made that the best working relationships are ones that happen naturally, rather than being forced to work with a specific person.

LMS #3: Motivational Frameworks

Wlodiwski and Ginsberg (1995) provide a motivational framework for culturally responsive teaching, based around the broad categories of (i) establishing inclusion, (ii) developing attitude, (iii) enhancing meaning, (iv) engendering competence.

Considering the presence of people from non-Anglo-Australian cultural background, suggest some criteria, norms, procedures, and structures that can use the motivational framework. Compare these to those exhibits suggested by Wlodiwski and Ginsberg (p35-41)

(Good response by Belinda)

Being aware of diversity and multi-culturalism is the first step in embracing other cultures. Any activity within the framework should be ongoing and integrated daily into the learning process. Establishing inclusion should involve providing opportunities for students to interact with the teacher informally, to establish any difficulties with cultural differences. Make it known the culture is acknowledged, valued and respected, perhaps establish a 'meet and greet' scenario to gain insight into varying backgrounds, and find out what they hope to achieve from their learning experience. Make students aware of ground rules and involve interactive learning experiences into the class. Developing attitude could involve asking students how they prefer to learn, or find out about their learning patterns. Small groups are helpful, to encourage input or ideas from a cultural perspective. Be open to suggestions of learning activities from ideas of other cultures and try new things. Encourage the student to make choices and voice opinions based on their own experiences and values. Enhancing meaning might involve finding a topic of significance or value to an individual, and challenge them to critically evaluate it using real-life experiences. Find an issue or problem that involves research through diversity and experience, and can be based on individual values and beliefs. This will strengthen meaning and connection, and help develop better understanding. Engendering competence would involve finding out what what the student had learnt through research and given tasks that has relevance to individual needs and requirements. Self assessment plays a huge role in this. Feedback throughout the course is required also, as any problems arising throughout the course of learning need to be addressed immediately. Being open to the diversity of students through non-standardized grading of assessments is also important. Overall, encouraging open, honest and respectful class discussions is important, and encouraging positive interaction with classmates and teachers is vital within the framework.

(Miriam's response)

Wlodowski (1995) article : Diversity and Motivation, was very interesting for me to read. Coming from a multicultural background myself and believeing in multicultural Australia I found the connection that he made between the achieving a pluralistic democratic society that meets its ideal of equity and socila justice and the education fascinating. Slodwski argues that an approach to teaching which is based on cultural plurism can contribute to the purpose of higher education. He confirms that such an approach should respect the following essentials of culturally responsive teaching: divercity in society, engage the motivation of all learners; create a safe, inclusive and respectful learning environment; diverse teaching practices from principles that cross dicsiplines and cultures and promote justice. Wlodowski, argues that univercity academics should replace intrinsic motivation instead of extrinsic motivational procedures instead of extrinsic motivation in their classrooms. Intrinsic motivational attitudes are advocated by theorists such as Csikszentmihalyi (1998).
He recommends that intrinsic methods of motivation should prevail in college education and adult education. He advised teachers of adults to apply theseintrinsic motivational procedures to their teaching processess in college and adult teaching. According to Wlodowski all students learn according to the principles and values of their culture and motivation is culturally fused embedded. therefore teachers are advocated to accept that each learner represents her or his own reality , especiall whe it comes to what that individual finds motivating. Any motivational framework for culturally responsive education must accomodate the range of diversity found in adult and college education environment.

Wlodowski offe his framework which he describes as holistic and systemec representation of 4 motivational goals for a culturally responsive teaching which is based on intrinsic motivatio:
Establishing Inclusion
Developing Attitude
Enhancing Meaning
Enddangering Competence.

With the use of these motivational goals and the exhibts that Wlodowski suggests the teacher now has an intigrated set of norms , procedures and structures for creating an approach that that is more responsive to the diversity of any adult students and achieving a pluralistic democratic society that meets its ideal of equity and social justice, from its educational persepective.