Scaffolding and Knowledge Appropriation in Online Collaborative Group Discussions


Sociocultural constructivism assumes that a learner’s capacity for intellectual growth increases with the presence of scaffolding or support during interaction. Moreover, from participating in dialogic interaction, there is appropriation of the knowledge shared and jointly created by learners which could transform individual understandings. Hence, interactions are opportunities for scaffolding and appropriation that affect intellectual development. This paper presents a study of an online course based on constructivist principles and evaluates the extent to which an instructional activity, supported by synchronous communication technology in a virtual environment, fosters collaborative learning. Survey findings on two student groups’ experiences of collaborative learning during online tutorials are presented. The results indicated that scaffolding was available as peers’ efforts in provision and clarification of ideas during tutorial discussions. Also, appropriation of shared knowledge was present as students’ perceptions of own attainment of learning from peer contributions during discussions. The conclusion discusses the effectiveness of the instructional activity in facilitating collaborative learning and offers recommendations for future research.