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Article

How role-taking in a group-work setting affects the relationship between the amount of collaboration and germane cognitive load

This research investigates how learning groups affect student learning from two perspectives: first, the amount of group work students do, and second, the role that they take within the group. It is not clear from the current research how a student’s role in collaborative learning affects his/her development of critical thinking and the construction of knowledge. The present study looks into whether the positive relationships found between collaboration and germane cognitive load are affected by a learner’s role within the group. Using cognitive load theory, this study analyzed survey responses from a group of university students (n = 1399) who engaged in collaborative study groups when taking online classes in South Korea. While it was found that the amount of collaboration a student engaged in positively affected levels of germane load and that their level of contribution negatively moderated that relationship. In other words, while more group work is beneficial, students who contribute less to the group have greater gains from higher levels of collaboration than students who take a more active role.