Collaborative learning through creating shared knowledge objects (PhD project) (completed)

Mechanisms, characteristics and technological support

About the project

This PhD project aims at exploring the way higher education students learn from collaboratively creating knowledge artefacts, and at designing pedagogical and technological means to support this process.


This research project attempts to gain deeper understanding in the theoretical perspective underlying the knowledge creation perspective to learning, to contribute to the design and development of innovative technology, and to investigate how this technology enhance and supports these processes. Through this project I intend to shed light on concepts and processes that are considered seminal for learning through creating knowledge, and I aim to provide a contribution to the design and development of technology that enhances and supports the collaborative object-oriented activities. The main focus is on investigating the mechanisms and characteristics of object-oriented collaboration, such as productive interactions, materialization of knowledge into concrete artefacts or shared epistemic agency.

Theory and methods

The core idea underlying this project is that understanding and knowing are mediated by objects created and shared by the community (Van Aalst, 2009). Within this context, learning takes place through a collaborative effort to create shared knowledge objects (Paavola & Hakkarainen, 2005). To be able to actively participate in collaborative creation of knowledge objects, students are expected to take control of their learning, to go beyond individual efforts, and to engage in productive collaboration with peers. The related theoretical claim is that new meaning and understanding arises through externalization of knowledge by collaborative creation of a shared object, supported by an appropriated pedagogical and technological design.

I employ a qualitative research approach, and combine case studies with elements of design experiments. In the empirical studies, a theoretical mix of qualitative methods is used for gathering the empirical material, allowing triangulation of the data. I intensively follow the collaborative activities of student groups during longer periods of time, with as result a large sets of qualitative data: observations, recordings of the groups’ meetings, tutoring sessions, e-mail correspondence, end-interviews, intermediate and final products, and reflective reports. Amongst other, interaction analysis, content analysis, analysis of written documents are applied.

Funding and timeframe

Funding: Faculty of Education, UiO

Timeframe: 2009-2013

Related projects

This PhD project is conducted within the context of the KP-Lab project.


In the empirical studies the web application Knowledge Practices Environment (KPE), developed by the KP-Lab project was used.


Damsa, C.I., Kirschner, P.A., Andriessen, J.E.B., Erkens, G. & Sins, P.H.M. (2010). Shared Epistemic Agency: An Empirical Study of an Emergent Construct. The Journal of the Learning Sciences. ISSN 1050-8406. 19(2), 143-186.

Pardijs, Mirjam; Andriessen, Jerry; Sins, Patrick; Damsa, Crina & Veerman, Arja (2008). Onderzoek en praktijk, samen verantwoordelijk voor onderwijs. Van twaalf tot achttien. 8, 34- 3

Master and Bachelor Theses

Zaharescu, L., Damsa, C.I., Erkens, G. (2010). Analysis of Students’ Reflection on Collaboration, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Heemskerk D., & Schut, S. (2009). The Elaboration of Ideas into Shared Knowledge Objects in Collaborative Research Activities of University Students in the Context of Knowledge Creation, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Conference presentations and posters

Damsa, C.I. & Ludvigsen, S. (2010, August/September). Learning Through Collaborative Creation of Shared Knowledge Objects: Analytic Challenges, Paper presented at the EARLI SIG6/7 conference, Ulm, Germany.

Damsa, C.I., Sins, P.H.M., Reijnen, B. (2010, June/July). Learning Through Collaborative Creation of Shared Knowledge Objects: Technological Support and Analytic Challenges Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, (ICLS2010) Chicago, IL.

Damsa, C.I. (2010, June/July). Creating knowledge through object-oriented collaboration - mechanisms, characteristics and technological support, Paper presented at the Doctoral Consortium, at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS2010), Chicago, IL.

Damsa, C.I., Sins, P.H.M., & Ludvigsen, S. (2010, May). Trialogical work in higher education: creation and use of shared objects in knowledge creation practices. Paper presented in H. Muukkonen, C. I. Damsa & S. Ludvigsen, Collective object-bound activities: exploring the boundaries of knowledge creation and cultural historical activity theory frameworks, Symposium at the Nordic ISCAR conference, Helsinki, Finland.

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Published Sep. 15, 2010 9:48 AM - Last modified Oct. 27, 2017 12:49 PM