Title: Using activity theory to study cooperative learning

Authors: Theodor G. Wyeld

Addresses: Flinders University, G.P.O. Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia, Australia

Abstract: Cooperative learning is about students working together in groups on a single project discussing ideas and sharing information openly. Graduate students need group work skills for engaging in increasingly globalised workplace practises. Activity theory (AT) is used to analyse the effectiveness of cooperative learning as a simulated workplace practise in the classroom. AT helps the teacher to understand how work activities are cooperatively realised. There have been many case studies using AT to analyse cooperative learning. They all tend to focus on the role of social interaction in collaborative projects. This paper provides a summary overview of the structure and key elements of an AT-led analysis of cooperative learning environments. It includes the observable facets of cooperative learning: actors, history, transformation, action, play, culture, teams and knowledge. It concludes with some recommendations for adopting and adapting AT to classroom practice monitoring for the teacher.

Keywords: cooperative learning; activity theory; online collaboration; play; learning communities; innovation; virtual communities; web based communities; higher education; graduate students; group work; group skills; simulation; culture; teams; knowledge.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2013.054238

International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 2013 Vol.13 No.4, pp.430 - 450

Published online: 31 Jul 2013 *

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