Are They Thinking Differently: A Cross-Cultural Study on the Relationship of Thinking Styles and Emerging Roles in Computer Supported Collaborative Learning

Xiaoqing Gu, Huawen Wang, Jon Mason, Educational Technology & Society, Jan 12, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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It's often said that people from different cultures collaborate differently. But why? This paper examines the possibility that different thinking styles result in different collaboration styles. The paper takes as its point of departure Sternberg's 1990 "cultural construct is introduced as 'mental self-government' to highlight the relationship between individual abilities and preferences and its effect on teaching and learning." Using small samples (too small, really) of students from China and the United States, the authors found that "Chinese students tend toward adopting roles of arguer, questioner and challenger, which are consistent with the thinking style of the oligarchic. By contrast, American students actively assume roles of supporter, starter, and timer, and are characterized as outgoing, enthusiastic, and friendly to group members, which are consistent with judicial, liberal, and hierarchical thinking skills."

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