University of Oulu

Zambrano, J., Kirschner, F., Sweller, J. et al. Effects of group experience and information distribution on collaborative learning. Instr Sci 47, 531–550 (2019).

Effects of group experience and information distribution on collaborative learning

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Author: Zambrano, Jimmy1; Kirschner, Femke2; Sweller, John3;
Organizations: 1Welten Institute, Open University of the Netherlands, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419AT, Heerlen, The Netherlands
2Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Education, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
3School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia
4Learning and Educational Technology Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-02-25


Collaborative learning is a widely used instructional technique, but factors determining its effectiveness still are unclear. Cognitive load theory was used to examine the effects of prior collaborative experience and density of distribution of information amongst learners on short-term retention and delayed retention tests, as well as cognitive efficiency of collaborative learning and its outcomes. Data obtained with 240 secondary school students showed that groups with experience in collaboration outperformed and were more cognitively efficient than inexperienced groups, and low information density increased performance during the learning process. Also, when tasks required processing high information density, experienced groups were more cognitively efficient than inexperienced groups. For tasks with low information density no difference was found. These results provide instructional implications for designing effective collaborative learning environments.

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Series: Instructional science
ISSN: 0020-4277
ISSN-E: 1573-1952
ISSN-L: 0020-4277
Volume: 47
Pages: 531 - 550
DOI: 10.1007/s11251-019-09495-0
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © 2019 The Authors. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.