Classroom model, model classroom: Computer-supported methodology for investigating collaborative-learning pedagogy

Author: Abrahamson, D., Blikstein, P. & Wilensky, U.
Year: 2007
Type: Refereed Conference Paper/Poster/Demo (with Proceedings)
Conference/Journal: CSCL 2007

Dor Abrahamson, Paulo Blikstein, and Uri Wilensky. 2007. Classroom model, model classroom: computer-supported methodology for investigating collaborative-learning pedagogy. In Proceedings of the 8th international conference on Computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL’07), Clark A. Chinn, Gijsbert Erkens, and Sadhana Puntambekar (Eds.). International Society of the Learning Sciences 49-58.


We have been exploring the potential of agent-based modeling methodology for socialscience research and, specifically, for illuminating theoretical complementarities of cognitive and socio-constructivist conceptualizations of learning (e.g., Abrahamson & Wilensky, 2005a). The current study advances our research by applying our methodology to pedagogy research: we investigate individual and social factors underlying outcomes of implementing collaborative-inquiry classroom practice. Using bifocal modeling (Blikstein & Wilensky, 2006a), we juxtapose agent-based simulations of collaborative problem solving with real-classroom data of students’ collaboration in a demographically diverse middle-school mathematics classroom (Abrahamson & Wilensky, 2005b). We validate the computer model by comparing outcomes from running the simulation with outcomes of the real intervention. Findings are that collaboration pedagogy emphasizing group performance may forsake individual learning, because stable division-of-labor patterns emerge due to utilitarian preference of short-term production over long-term learning (Axelrod, 1997). The study may inform professional development and pedagogical policy (see interactive applet: