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Dennerlein Sebastian, Ley Tobias, Kump Barbara, Moskaliuk Johannes

Tracing knowledge co-evolution in a realistic course setting: A wiki-based field experiment

Computers & Education, Pergamon, 2013

The co-evolution model of collaborative knowledge building by Cress & Kimmerle (2008) assumes that cognitive and social processes interact when users build knowledge with shared digital artifacts. While these assumptions have been tested in various lab experiments, a test under natural field conditions in educational settings has not been conducted. Here, we present a field experiment where we triggered knowledge co-evolution in an accommodation and an assimilation condition, and measured effects on student knowledge building outside the laboratory in the context of two university courses. Therefore, 48 students received different kinds of prompts that triggered external accommodation and assimilation while writing a wiki text. Knowledge building was measured with a content analysis of the students‟ texts and comments (externalization), and with concept maps and association tests (internalization). The findings reveal that (a) different modes of externalization (accommodation and assimilation) could be triggered with prompts, (b) across both conditions, this externalization co-occurred with internalization (student learning), and (c) there is some evidence that external assimilation and accommodation had differential effects on internal assimilation and accommodation. Thus, the field experiment supports the assumptions of the co-evolution model in a realistic course setting. On a more general note, the study provides an example of how wikis can be used successfully for collaborative knowledge building within educational contexts.
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