Social Foundations of Learning

These projects are exploring how to make technologies that enhance the best of social interaction for learning while mitigating the worst.

Learning With Others

Learning with other people confers special benefits that can be difficult to achieve working alone. Our lab works to identify these benefits, so it is possible to answer the questions: (a) when is it ideal to use social learning arrangements, and (b) how can technologies facilitate or simulate productive social learning arrangements?

In one line of research, we have found that simply believing that one is interacting with another person leads to superior learning, compared to working alone or with a computer-controlled character. When people interact with other people they pay more attention, show moderate increases in arousal, and are more attentive to feedback.

In a separate line of work, we have tried to understand some of the unique outcomes of collaboration, especially in the context of "making things." We have found that collaborating yields more well-structured ideas. We have further theorized that producing ideas and seeing them taken up by others is the basis of human agency, and has exceptional benefits for learning.

Relevant publications: