Learning By Collaborative Teaching: An Engaging Multi-Party CoWriter Activity

Laila El Hamamsy, Wafa Johal, Thibault Asselborn, Jauwairia Nasir, Pierre Dillenbourg

This article presents the design of a novel and engaging collaborative learning activity for handwriting where a group of participants simultaneously tutor a Nao robot. This activity was intended to take advantage of both collaborative learning and the learning-by-teaching approach to improve children's metacognition (perception of their own skills). Multiple sensors to measure children's involvements have been incorporated into the activity as a first step to promote long-term interactions (cameras and microphones).

Since a lot of research has focused on social interactions, the objective here was to determine whether a task-oriented engagement strategy could be as effective, if not more effective, than a strategy focused on social interactions and participant introspection. As a result, two engagement strategies have been implemented. They differ in content but use the same multimodal design to increase participants' meta-cognitive thinking, one being on the task and performance, and one on the participants' enjoyment and emotions. The two strategies were compared to a baseline by surveying and assessing engagement at the individual and collective level, across behavioural, emotional, and cognitive dimensions, in a subject-to-subject experiment with 12 groups of children.

Experiments have shown that the collaborative task caused children to adapt their writing style to the group's, even if the solution adopted was not always correct. In addition, there were no significant differences between the strategies in terms of behaviour (behavioural engagement), satisfaction (emotional engagement), or performance (cognitive engagement), with group dynamics having a stronger impact on the outcome. Therefore, task engagement and social engagement strategies can be seen as effective in the context of collaboration.