The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Knowledge building in student centered learning using distributed cognition in teams

Ray J. Rhodes, University of Johannesburg (South Africa)



The purpose of the paper is to report on the results of student knowledge building when involved in collaboration within teams. Distributed cognition, and the human relationship with artefacts has been the subject of much recent debate, especially in the health sciences and in computing, when collaborative teamwork is discussed [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. This is known as Distributed Cognition in Teamwork (DICOT). An observation of, and investigation into, the usage of DICOT artefacts by lecturers’ revealed clear evidence of DICOT linked to knowledge building [1]. This knowledge building was evidenced through a greater reliance of the artefact by inexperienced lecturers and a lesser reliance on DICOT artefacts in more experienced lecturers [1]. The usage of the artefact leads to an internalization of the contents of the artefact [1]. This lesser reliance on an artefact because of experience with the contents shows a higher level of externalization of the knowledge [1]. This shift from high artefact use to low artefact use reflected the building of knowledge within the lecturer. Equally important to the creation and usage of the artefact was the conduct of the meetings at which the artefact was created. A case study involving lecturers and third year students in a financial subject is underway at the University of Johannesburg. The case study involves investigating the outcomes of a learning task, framed as a case study where individual effort is required, to the outcomes of a second case study where collaboration within a team is required. The construction of the learning task enforces the conduct of teams, within the principles of DICOT, to the creation of a shared artefact. The students are required to create a blog of the team interaction and participate in interviews. Preliminary analysis reveals enhanced knowledge building in students.

Keywords: DICOT, Knowledge building, Student Centered Learning, Case Study



R. J. Rhodes, Evaluating the impact of ICT in accounting education (PhD Thesis), Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg, 2019.


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J. Hollan, E. Hutchins and D. Kirsh, "Distributed cognition: toward a new foundation for human-computer interaction research," ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI),, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 174-196, 2000.


P. C. Wright, R. E. Fields and M. Harrison, "Analyzing human-computer interaction as distributed cognition: the resources model.," Human-Computer Interaction,, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 1-41, 2000.


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