Investigating the Effectiveness of an Orchestration Tool on the Nature of Students' Collaborative Interactions During Group Work

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Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference


American Society for Engineering Education

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This work-in-progress paper focuses on the relationships among orchestration technology, instructor interventions, and student interactions in an undergraduate engineering context. Collaborative problem solving (CPS) has become increasingly common in engineering courses [1], as it more closely mimics work performed by engineers in industry. Complex real-world tasks require practicing engineers to consult and collaborate not only with colleagues of similar discipline but also experts from various other fields [2]; thus, creating effective CPS experiences in engineering curricula is important for effectively preparing new generations of engineers for the demands of the workplace. As collaborative learning engages students at both individual and group levels, implementing CPS practices in the classroom requires instructors to reactively provide guidance for students’ conceptual understanding while simultaneously supporting their interactions, rather than solely providing content-focused instruction. This can be done through various means, such as task structures and face-to-face instructor interventions and feedback. However, supporting CPS remains challenging, especially for novice instructors (e.g., teaching assistants; TAs) who often teach introductory engineering courses. Prior research has shown that graduate TAs tend to lack the pedagogical knowledge necessary for monitoring, assessing, and supporting groups’ real-time collaborative interactions [3], [4]. The act of managing these pedagogical factors in real time is also known as orchestration [5]. There is an ongoing need to support TAs in identifying groups’ progress and orchestrating collaborative interactions; thus, it is necessary to present TAs with actionable information and recommendations to help them navigate groups who may need collaborative support. A relatively new practice that addresses this need is the implementation of orchestration technology, which often uses real-time data to facilitate teaching practices while considering various factors within the classroom.

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