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Hearing All Voices to Promote Learning Orientation and Effective Collaboration

Science Scope—Fall 2023 (Volume 46, Issue 7)

By Pei Pei Liu, Sharon Taylor, Ann Colwell-Johnson, Alexandra Lee, David McKinney, Christopher J. Harris, Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia, Gwen C. Marchand, and Jennifer A. Schmidt

Motivation and collaboration intersect in important ways in a science classroom. One important motivational component of collaborative work is what students understand the goal of that work to be (Ames 1992). When students feel they are competing, especially within their own groups, to get the highest grade, complete the task fastest, or show that they are smart (ego orientation), they can view collaboration as an impediment to those goals and show less willingness to cooperate (Rogat and Linnenbrink-Garcia 2019). A high-achieving student might take control to ensure that her group’s product shines and reflects well on her—but then gets frustrated feeling like she’s “doing all the work.” Another student who lacks confidence might use the collaboration to skate by, making small contributions to avoid the group’s wrath but not otherwise challenging himself. By contrast, if teachers can cultivate a learning orientation such that developing deeper understanding is the goal, students work more effectively in teams (Hijzen, Boekaerts, and Vedder 2007). Collaboration becomes an essential tool for three-dimensional science learning because diverse perspectives, ideas, and approaches all contribute to making sense of phenomena and solving problems (Table 1).

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