University of Oulu

Héctor J. Pijeira-Díaz, Hendrik Drachsler, Sanna Järvelä, Paul A. Kirschner, Sympathetic arousal commonalities and arousal contagion during collaborative learning: How attuned are triad members?, Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 92, 2019, Pages 188-197, ISSN 0747-5632,

Sympathetic arousal commonalities and arousal contagion during collaborative learning : how attuned are triad members?

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Author: Pijeira-Díaz, Héctor J.1; Drachsler, Hendrik2,3,4; Järvelä, Sanna1;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Education, University of Oulu
2Goethe University Frankfurt
3German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF)
4Welten Institute, Open University of the Netherlands
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-11-22


This article explores the dynamics of collaborative learning in the classroom from the perspective of the commonalities and interdependence in the degree of physiological activation from the sympathetic nervous system (i.e., sympathetic arousal) of group members. Using Empatica E4 wristbands, electrodermal activity—to derive arousal—was measured in 24 high school students working in groups of three (i.e., triads) during two runs of an advanced physics course. The participants met three times a week over six weeks for lessons of 75 min each. Most of the time (≈60–95% of the lesson) the triad members were at different arousal levels, and, when they were on the same level, it was mainly the low arousal (or deactivated) level. Less than 4% of the time were the triad members simultaneously in high arousal. Possible within-triad arousal contagion cases (71.3%) occurred mostly on a one-to-one basis and with a latency from within a few seconds up to 10 min, but usually within 1 min. This study supports the view that only small parts of group work are collaborative, as far as the synchronicity and coordination which collaboration presupposes. Although exploratory, results also illustrate the affordances of physiological measures to characterize collaborative processes.

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Series: Computers in human behavior
ISSN: 0747-5632
ISSN-E: 0747-5632
ISSN-L: 0747-5632
Volume: 92
Pages: 188 - 197
DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2018.11.008
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland [grant number 275440].
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 275440
Detailed Information: 275440 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license