Issues of gender and peer collaboration in a problem-solving computer activity

Laurie E Center, University of Rhode Island


The study investigated student attitude and performance on one problem solving computer activity. Four sections of 61 sixth grade students were randomly assigned to either individual computer instruction or same-sex collaborative pairs for six lessons with the spatial perspectives software, Building Perspectives. Students completed pre and post Computer Attitude Questionnaires (CAQ) and Mental Rotation Tests (MRT) to assess differences in attitude and performance between the instructional environment and/or student gender. Results do not indicate significant differences between the independent and collaborative pairs' environments. Boys, however, significantly outperform girls on both pre and post tests of spatial abilities. Moreover, students significantly improved their performances with no overall change in student attitude towards computers. Girls do increase their preference for work with computers while boys decrease their inclination for computer activities. Furthermore, videotape revealed no significant gender differences in the quality or quantity of verbal interactions between the collaborative pairs. Students employed one of three distinct styles of collaboration: interchanging, teaching & learning, or taking turns. Interchanging peers exchanged the most task-related comments and fewest off task remarks. Collaborative style appears to influence pairs' interactions more than student gender. Exposure and instruction with the Building Perspectives program helped students improve their spatial abilities.

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Recommended Citation

Laurie E Center, "Issues of gender and peer collaboration in a problem-solving computer activity" (2004). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3135894.