Collaboration Load

Abstract : Does collaboration increase or decrease cognitive load during learning? On one hand, collaboration enables some degree of division of labour that may reduce cognitive load. On the other hand since interacting, expressing thoughts, monitoring another's understanding, grounding, etc., are mechanisms inducing some extraneous cognitive load, they may create cognitive overload and impede learning mechanisms. However this additional load may explain why collaboration sometimes leads to knowledge construction. This trade-off between productive versus counter-productive load is not specific to collaborative learning. It is also present in individual learning, namely questioning guided-discovery learning methods. This contribution explores the concept of cognitive load in collaborative situations. We raise more question than provide answers. What constitutes collaboration load, i.e. which mechanisms triggered during collaborative learning more often than during individual learning, contribute to increase cognitive load? In collaborative learning software, which interface features and tool functionalities increase or decrease the different costs factors (verbalization, grounding, modelling...)? We explore these questions and illustrate our arguments with three studies on computer-supported collaborative problem solving. We also consider how the collaboration load may be tuned through the design of computer-supported collaborative learning environments.
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Pierre Dillenbourg, Mireille Betrancourt. Collaboration Load. Handling complexity in learning environments: theory and research, J. Elen and R. E. Clark, pp.142-163, 2006, Advances in Learning and Instruction Series. ⟨hal-00190700⟩

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