Promoting Collaboration in a Project-Based E-Learning Context

From Section:
ICT & Teaching
Feb. 01, 2011
Winter, 2010

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education. 43(2); (Winter 2010). p. 135-155. (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors investigate the value of collaboration in promoting the sharing of individual reflective thinking in group work and enhancing metacognitive knowledge in a project-based e-learning (PLB) context.

The authors conducted an empirical study using a collaborative learning script combining individual and collaborative activities at specific phases of a project as an additional scaffold. The authors used MyProject in an e-learning context where all the interactions take place online and the life cycle of a project is inherent in the environment.

The article paper focuses on the following questions:
• What are the design variables for a collaborative script intended to promote metacognitive knowledge?
• What types of metacognitive knowledge should be better supported at specific phases of a project?
• Which phases of a project should be better supported by peer learning?


This empirical study adopted a collaboration script for the planning and evaluation phases, as these are the most critical for the project work. In the particular script, individual activities precede the collaborative ones to promote sharing of individual reflective thinking during the collaborative activities.

The study also investigates how the following types of metacognitive knowledge, which are considered necessary for accomplishing a project, develop through the planning and evaluation phases (White, 1999):
(a) self-knowledge, which entails individuals’ capacity to recognize their strengths/weaknesses and evaluate themselves;
(b) knowledge of plans and goals, referring to learner’s capacity to set and maintain goals and to record what they intend to do through their learning;
(c) task-knowledge, which involves understanding the demands of tasks and what they require; and
(d) strategic knowledge, which refers to the knowledge of usefulness of strategies available for achieving learning goals.

Eighty-two students attending a course titled Computer Science Education during the spring semester of the academic year 2007–2008 in the Computer Science and Telecommunications Department at the University of Athens participated in this study.

The data were collected from the study and analyzed included group, and the learners’ evaluation questionnaires.


Group discussions provide evidence about the different types of metacognitive knowledge that different stages of the project work cultivated. The data also provide evidence about the influence of individual work on group reflective thinking and of group work on individual development.

Moreover, students who participated in the study seem to value the opportunities for collaboration and peer interaction it offered.
They value them for promoting task motivation as well as facilitating inquiry, understanding, and application of domain concepts involved in the particular project.

Finally, most of the students seem to appreciate the value of interaction and collaboration opportunities at various stages of the MyProject learning cycle for accomplishing the project.

White, C. J. (1999). The metacognitive knowledge of distance learners. Open Learning, 14(3), 37–46.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Active learning | College students | Cooperative learning | Instructional design | Meta-cognition | Student projects | Web-based instruction