The role of academic motivation in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

Rienties, Bart; Tempelaar, Dirk; Van den Bossche, Piet; Gijselaers, Wim and Segers, Mien (2009). The role of academic motivation in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(6) pp. 1195–1206.



In recent years, increasing attention has been devoted to virtual learning. In the last decade, a large number of studies in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) have assessed how social interaction, learning processes and outcomes in virtual settings are intertwined. Although recent research findings indicate that learners differ with respect to the amount and type of discourse contributed in virtual settings, little is known about the causes of these differences. The research presented here looks into the effects of motivation of learners on their contribution to discourse using the Deci and Ryan framework of (intrinsic/extrinsic) motivation.

This study of 100 participants who were randomly distributed in six groups of 14 members collaborated in a virtual setting to remediate deficiencies in economics indicates that individuals differed with respect to the amount of discourse activity. Furthermore, an integrated multi-method approach (Content Analysis, Social Network Analysis and Academic Motivation Scale) was used in order to examine the impact of academic motivation on the type of discourse activity contributed and on the position of the learner in the social network. The results indicate that highly intrinsically motivated learners become central and prominent contributors to cognitive discourse. In contrast, extrinsically motivated learners contribute on average and are positioned throughout the social network. The research results reveal that differences in academic motivation influences the type of contributions to discourse as well as the position a learner takes within the social network.

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