Best Paper Award 2019 for a Systematic Literature Review on Collaborative Problem Solving

Photo credit: Julia Joppien on Unsplash.com

Sofia Eleftheriadou, Educational Research, University of Manchester, 2017 Cohort

In September 2019, I presented my paper titled “Conceptualisation and measurement of collaborative problem solving: a systematic review of the literature” at the Emerging Researchers’ Conference (ERC) in Hamburg, organised by the European Educational Research Association (EERA).  I attended the conference with support from the Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) offered to NWSSDTP-funded students.

After the Emerging Researchers’ Conference, presenters were invited to hand in full papers, which were reviewed by a committee and authors were then given formative feedback to develop their papers and re-submit. EERA’s Best Paper Award competition aimed to motivate early career researchers doing high quality research in the field of education, to turn their conference presentations into full papers suitable for publication in research journals.

Following a blind-review process, my paper was selected for the Best Paper Award 2019

The paper presented results of a systematic review of the literature on collaborative problem solving (CPS) in education published in research journals over the past two decades. Numerous studies in educational research have used the concept of CPS to understand learning and performance. Its increased popularity has been evidenced by the publication of book chapters as well as journal special issues focusing on the topic. The increasing interest in the concept of CPS has been also demonstrated with the growing number of initiatives, which have recently added assessments of CPS aiming to measure, and consequently ensure that students are equipped with, skills to meet the demands of their future careers. This paper intended to increase our understanding of CPS by investigating the conceptualisation and measurement the construct as presented in the related educational and social research via a systematic review of the academic literature. The study was guided by the following research question: How is collaborative problem solving (CPS) conceptualised and measured within existing recent studies?

The paper summarised how the concept has been employed by analysing the definitions, theoretical underpinnings, research purposes, units of analysis and relevant measurement approaches, adopted by studies under review. A total of 71 articles from 46 different journals were considered relevant and therefore reviewed, with approximately a quarter of the articles being affiliated to European countries. Research published on CPS showed an increasing trend over the last two decades, and especially over the last 10 years, confirming CPS to be very topical within educational research. Journals featuring the highest numbers of articles included in the review were related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This might be explained by the increasing use of technological tools and computer agents for the assessment of CPS. The analysis also revealed three main categories of CPS conceptualisation (socio-cognitive/socio-cultural/dialogical). Empirically, studies were found to be using two main units of analysis (single utterance/sequence of multiple utterances) and therefore focusing on two distinct levels of description (individual/group).  Finally, the paper presented a distribution of conceptualisations among studies from European countries and discussed how future CPS-related research could be made more conceptually coherent.

More information about the results of this study will be detailed in a published paper and as part of my doctoral thesis.

Sofia Eleftheriadou is a third year PhD candidate at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, UK. Her university researcher profile can be found here.

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