Regulating emotions in computer-supported collaborative problem-solving tasks




Webster, Elizabeth A.

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The ability to collaborate has been identified as an essential learning outcome for the 21st century. However, if group members lack the skills, abilities, and attitudes to work in a team, these groups may work inefficiently or fail to achieve what they set out to do. To achieve success, group members need to engage in productive regulatory processes to manage cognitions, behaviors, motivation, and emotions as needed to attain desired outcomes. One area of regulation that has been underemphasized in collaborative contexts is the regulation of emotions. Therefore, the purpose of this multi-paper dissertation was to examine the emotional experiences of undergraduate students working collaboratively on two online time-limited problem-solving tasks. Using a regulation of learning framework, the research unfolded over four studies drawing from a variety of data sources and building upon one another to explore the socio-emotional aspect of online collaboration. Study 1 (Webster & Hadwin, 2018) provides an overview of students’ emotions and plans for emotion regulation, self-reported during two collaborative tasks, offering an in-the-moment picture of how students feel and how they respond to those feelings. Study 2 (Bakhtiar, Webster, & Hadwin, 2018) consisted of a comparative case study to examine differences in regulation and socio-emotional interactions between two groups with contrasting socio-emotional climates. Findings revealed differences between these groups in terms of planning and preparation; therefore, the final two studies examined emotions and emotion regulation strategies reported during groupwork under different levels of planning and preparation at the individual or group level. Study 3 (Webster & Hadwin, 2019) documented the types of strategies students recalled using individually and as a group to regulate a salient emotion during collaboration and compared strategies between groups who were given different types of collaborative planning support. Finally, Study 4 (Webster, Davis, & Hadwin, 2019) compared emotions, emotion regulation strategies, and evaluations of strategy effectiveness for a purposeful sample of students who were well-prepared versus underprepared for the first of two collaborative working sessions. Four overarching factors emerged from this research as important for productive emotion regulation in online collaboration: (a) planning and preparation, (b) regulating both negative and positive emotions, (c) regulating at both individual and group levels, and (d) providing support for selecting and enacting helpful strategies. With further research, tools and interventions can be improved and utilized to support students to productively regulate in collaborative groups.



regulation of learning, emotions, emotion regulation, computer-supported collaborative learning