This project will synthesize research on computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Collaborative learning occurs often in preK-12 STEM teaching—yet most teachers are unaware of research findings on how to organize collaboration among students to increase learning. These research findings can support key STEM teaching practices such as argumentation, project-based learning, peer instruction, equitable participation, and inquiry-based learning. The science of CSCL achieved advances in the past decade, including producing a research handbook—however, practitioners do not have easy access to research journals, nor time to sift through the latest findings to guide their practice. Further, conventional forms of research synthesis, such as research handbooks or long synthesis papers, serve narrow audiences and are rarely read by practitioners. Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization that connects researchers, educators, and developers—with a team of external researcher and practitioner advisors and partner organizations—will investigate and develop a novel synthesis approach to provide educators and researchers with a novel form of synthesis organized around an interactive map of topics and subtopics. By working with national practitioner organizations, the project will achieve broad and deep dissemination.
To develop the synthesis, a multidisciplinary team of both researchers and educators will use a visual, interactive bibliometric approach to understand the research literature landscape. Key novel elements of the innovative synthesis approach are: (1) involving practitioners and researchers in each stage of the work—mapping, clarifying, and communicating; (2) using visual maps as a tool for organizing and navigating interconnected ideas; (3) involving both expert review and bibliometric techniques to identify topics and connections for the map; (4) using a qualitative process inspired by the Delphi method to iteratively develop a consensus map that both respects the scientific literature and addresses practitioners’ needs; (5) writing a short, concise primer for each topic within the map, to enable multiple entry points, accessibility, greater reader-navigability, and easier readability; and (6) during dissemination, involving multiple practitioner organizations and approaches for learning which dissemination channels and methods achieve broad and deep reach. The project will establish a new mode of synthesis that, if successful, could be applied to other high-interest topic areas, yielding additional research maps and concept primers to serve the needs of STEM researchers and practitioners. Finally, this process will also strengthen the large field of research that studies CSCL by increasing awareness of the gaps in knowledge between what researchers have established and what practitioners want to know.