Collaboration Scripts for CSCL


Contributor: Frank Fischer (Ludwig Maximilians Universität München)

Collaboration scripts guide learners’ in their collaboration. The Script Theory of Guidance distinguishes between internal and external collaboration scripts. Internal collaboration scripts are composed of flexible knowledge components that help an individual to understand and engage in interaction with other people. External collaboration scripts are scaffolds that aim at (co-)activating functional internal script components. The script theory of guidance builds on the late work of Roger Schank on dynamic memory but extended it with respect to assumptions on the flexibility of script components and with respect to its instructional consequences. A recent meta-analysis (Vogel et al., 2017) has summarized empirical studies and came to the conclusion that external collaboration scripts do have positive effects on learning. However, the effect is greater for learning to collaborate (e.g., argumentation) than for collaborating to learn, e.g., about evolution in biology. Moreover, external collaboration scripts have better effects when they are combined with content support and target a middle level in the hierarchy of internal script components (i.e., the scene level according). In research on computer-supported collaborative learning collaboration scripts have been a boundary concept linking psychology, science and mathematics education and computer science.

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Syllabi and Slides

Collaboration Scripts for CSCL slides by Frank Fischer, Ingo Kollar, and Christof Wecker

Video Resources

Listen to the Collaboration Scripts for CSCL webinar


Basic Reading:
  • Fischer, F., Kollar, I., Stegmann, K., & Wecker, C. (2013). Toward a script theory of guidance in computer-supported collaborative learning. Educational psychologist, 48(1), 56-66. [Open Access]
Additional Reading:
  • Dillenbourg, P., & Jermann, P. (2007). Designing integrative scripts In F. Fischer, I. Kollar, H. Mandl & J. M. Haake (Eds.), Scripting computer-supported collaborative learning (pp. 275-301): New York: Springer.
  • Kollar, I., Fischer, F., & Hesse, F. W. (2006). Collaboration scripts—a conceptual analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 18(2), 159-185.
  • Kolodner, J. L. (2007). The roles of scripts in promoting collaborative discourse in learning by design. In F. Fischer, I. Kollar, H. Mandl & J. M. Haake (Eds.), Scripting Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Cognitive, Computational, and Educational Perspectives (pp. 237-262). New York: Springer.
  • Rummel, N., & Spada, H. (2005). Learning to collaborate: An instructional approach to promoting collaborative problem-solving in computer-mediated settings. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14(2), 201-241.
  • Schellens, T., Van Keer, H., De Wever, B., & Valcke, M. (2007). Scripting by assigning roles: Does it improve knowledge construction in asynchronous discussion groups? International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 2(2-3), 225-246.
  • Wecker, C., & Fischer, F. (2011). From guided to self-regulated performance of domain-general skills: The role of peer monitoring during the fading of instructional scripts. Learning and Instruction, 21(6), 746-756.

Learning Scientists Who Have Researched This Topic

  • Murat Cakir
  • Tim Koschmann
  • Richard Medina
  • Johann Sarmiento
  • Gerry Stahl
  • Dan Suthers
  • Stephan Trausan-Matu
  • Alan Zemel
  • Nan Zhou