Facilitating group learning in science laboratory courses using handheld devices

Chen Wei Chung, Wang Hsin Kuo, Chen Chung Liu

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The laboratory course is an inferential curriculum designed to foster science inquiry ability in science education. However, in the universities of Taiwan, laboratory courses often last only a limited time and explore only a single topic of inquiry. Students' individual ideas and experiences are not well represented in the group inquiry process. Therefore, this study attempts to provide an organizing tool on PDAs to help student groups regulate their inquiry processes and engage in reflective inquiry activities. By gathering data from 56 students (17 groups) participating in the laboratory course, this study utilizes handheld devices as an observational tool for peer interactions in collaborative inquiry activities. A total of 360 minutes of activity log was analyzed for details of peer interaction in order to understand how handheld devices can influence group regulation when students are provided with group regulation functions on PDAs. Students demonstrated six main types of interaction when formulating group inquiry plans via PDAs. This study makes distinction between four patterns of cooperative PDA use. Such distinction could assist teachers and system designers in facilitating group activities by avoiding unfavorable interaction patterns. The results show that unperceived conflicts concealed in individual devices impede peer interaction. This finding suggests that designers of learning environments should consider the importance of reinforcement mechanisms applied in Mobile Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (MCSCL) to maintain shared understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2010
Event9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS 2010 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: 29 Jun 20102 Jul 2010


Conference9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago, IL


  • Group regulation
  • Handheld devices
  • Laboratory courses
  • Peer interaction analysis


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