09 SES 01 B, Measuring Cognitive Processes and Domain-General Competencies
This paper offers a critical review of the issue of measuring group thinking, describes work-in-progress developing a measure of group thinking, and illustrates the initial use of this measure to focus in on value-adding behaviors in groups. The measure of group thinking combines two tests of equal difficulty, one for individual use and one for use by triads. It builds on earlier work by Wegerif and Mercer (Wegerif et al, 2005: Wegerif, Mercer and Dawes, 1999). The main proposed use is an assessment of the impact of interventions promoting more effective group thinking. The correlation of individual results with group results gives us an indication of the value-adding or value detracting impact of working in a group. This is greatly enhanced by qualitative data when groups are filmed doing the test. We report work in progress on the validation of this measure and illustrate its use. Our initial results suggest one potential use as providing an empirical foundation for the design of pedagogical interventions.
A critical review of the literature relating to the measurement of group thinking revealsseveral problems (Howe and Abedin, 2013). Most research on classroom dialogue assumes a model of good dialogue and then looks for features that correspond with that model. This approach might be useful to assess the effectiveness of the teaching of dialogue but does not measure the effectiveness of the group thinking. Research that claims to measure the effectiveness of teaching group thinking through the impact that this has on curriculum tasks is quite indirect as a measure the effectiveness of group-thinking itself. This kind of research can demonstrate the value of a pedagogical approach but does not shed light on the causal processes that might underlie effective group thinking. Inductive approaches such as interpretative discourse analysis holds out more promise of describing causal mechanisms in talk. Work by Barron and Mercer, as well as others, in this vein, has led to useful knowledge about effective group processes and how to promote these. However, because such approaches do not directly assess group thinking but only interpret apparently successful group processes they suffer from the danger that they may be too influenced by theoretical and methodological assumptions. This review then suggests that it would be valuable to have a more direct measure of group thinking in order to guide research which can really address controversies about the causal processes that lie behind successful group thinking. An inspiration for this is found in the recent work of Anita Woolley and colleagues (Woolley et al, 2010) which has demonstrated the existence of a group intelligence factor named ‘c’, making some groups more effective than others across a range of problem-solving tasks. The single group task that correlated most closely to this ‘c’ was found to be a Ravens reasoning test.
In this paper we report on the design and use of a new group thinking measure consisting of two equal tests of individual thinking and of group thinking to be given before and after an intervention in order not only to measure impact on individual thinking and on group thinking but also to explore further the potential of correlating individual scores with group scores. We report on our work in progress. The measure has been developed and trialed and further research projects have begun to explore potential uses in measuring the impact of interventions. However we are able, initially, to illustrate the possible value of this measure with the example of its use in a pilot form in one classroom study to focus in on how some groups add value.
Howe, C., & Abedin, M. (2013). Classroom dialogue: A systematic review across four decades of research. Cambridge journal of education, 43(3), 325-356 Wegerif, R., Mercer, N. and Dawes, L. (1999). From social interaction to individual reasoning: An empirical investigation of a possible sociocultural model of cognitive development. Learning and Instruction, 9(5), 493–516. Wegerif, R., Perez Linares, J., Rojas-Drummond, S., Mercer, N., & Velez, M. (2005). Thinking together in the UK and Mexico: Transfer of an educational innovation. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 40(1), 40-48. Woolley, A. Chabris, C. Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., and Malone, T. (2010) Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups. Science, September 30, 2010 DOI:10.1126/science.1193147
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