The Role Of Internet Resources In Collaborative Design:
An Educational Perspective

Alex Cuthbert
Education In Mathematics, Science, & Technology (EMST)
University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley, CA 94720-1670 USA

[ Abstract | Introduction | Methods | Results & Discussion | Conclusion | References | Bibliography ]


The two experiments discussed in this paper address the following questions: (a) What types of online resources help students locate information on the Internet? and (b) How does conceptualization of the design problem affect the ability to locate and use evidence? By addressing these questions using the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration (SKI) framework (Linn, 1995), this research provides suggestions for improving the design of tools that facilitate knowledge construction and integration in online environments. In the first experiment, eighth graders (N=139) searched the World Wide Web (WWW) for information relevant to a design task involving the storage of heat and the regulation of temperature. A comparison of the frequency and ratings for sites that were deemed relevant revealed that students are inconsistent in the criteria they use for evaluating information. In addition, the study indicated that students use information in the preliminary design phase to generate design decisions rather than alternatives. In the second experiment, 140 eighth graders performed the design task. A collaborative search page (CSP) was added where sites selected by students were automatically added to a publicly-accessible and searchable Web form. The new activity design was successful in expanding the students' definition of the problem as measured by the number of groups that located sites they thought were useful (e.g., 83% an increase of 16% from the first experiment.)