We study the social and cognitive aspects of learning through human interaction, combining experimental and descriptive research methods. We ask questions such as: What characterizes interactions that are associated with individual learning gains? What are the specific social and cognitive processes that produce these gains? How can these processes be facilitated (or inhibited) by different types of instructional support and design? How do learners interact in different communication media and do those differences affect the potential for learning? Following are some of the projects, with selected references:
Academically productive dialogue in Israeli classrooms
In this 5-year long project, we examine the interrelationship between classroom discourse, cognitive skills, learning motivation and academic achievement in Israeli upper elementary classrooms. The project is funded by the Israel Science Foundation, as a Center of Excellence, in collaboration with Prof. Adam Lefstein, Dr. Dana Vedder Weiss, Prof. Guy Roth (Ben Gurion University) and Dr. Hadar Netz (Tel Aviv University).
Pedagogical reasoning in teacher teams
This project (funded by a philantropic organisation) is part of a large-scale intervention program in two Israeli school districts, which aims to strengthen teacher leadership in primary and middle schools by supporting leading teachers in their endeavors to facilitate productive pedagogical discourse in team meetings. It is led by the Laboratory for the Study of Pedagogy at Ben Gurion Univeristy, with which we collaborate. As a part of this larger program, we develop ways to code and quantify aspects of productive pedagogical discourse in team meetings, based on distinctions proposed in the literature. With the help of this coding scheme, we try to uncover conditions and processes that shape productive teacher discourse in natural settings. Collaborators: a/o Prof. Adam Lefstein, Dr. Dana Vedder-Weiss, Dr. Aliza Segal, and L&I lab member Miriam Babichenko.
- Babichenko, M., Segal., A., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2021). Associations between problem framing and teacher agency in school-based workgroup discussions of problems of practice.
Detection of psychological distress from social network activity
In this project (funded by separate grants from the Israel Innovation Authority and GIF), we identified overt and covert indicators of psychological distress (e.g., depression, social rejection, social anxiety, suicide risk) from a person's social media activities. We did this by crossvalidating an individual's Facebook activity features with external, offline measures of psychological states and traits, using human coding as well as computational methods (Natural Language Processing methods). Some of these studies focused on teenagers specifically, others were conducted on adults. With: Prof. Ro'i Reichart (Technion), lab members Yaakov Ophir, Itay Sisso, and Refael Tikochinski, and with Prof. Baruch Schwarz.
- Ophir, Tickochinski, Asterhan, Sisso & Reichart (2020). Deep neural network models detect suicide risk from textual Facebook postings.
- Ophir, Sisso, Asterhan, Tikochinski & Reichart (2019). The Turker blues: Hidden factors behind increased depression rates in Amazon's Mechanical Turk
- Ophir, Asterhan & Schwarz (2019). The digital footprints of adolescent depression, social rejection and victimization of bullying on Facebook.
- Ophir, Asterhan & Schwarz (2017). Unfolding the notes from the wall: Adolescents' depression manifestations on Facebook.
- Ophir, Asterhan & Schwarz (2017). Detection, Prevention, and Treatment of Adolescents' Distress on Social Media: A Literature Review (in Hebrew).
- Ophir, Rosenberg, Asterhan & Schwarz (2016). In times of war, adolescents do not fall silent: Teacher-student social network communication in wartime.
Social Network Technologies in Education
In this project (funded by separate grants from GIF and Mofet), we map the ways in which ubiquitous Social Network Site (SNS) technologies are adopted for school-related purposes, by both teachers and students, in secondary schools and higher education settings. We combine different methodologies, such as survey data, focus groups and personal interviews. Collaborators: Prof. Armin Weinberger, Dr. Dimitra Tsovaltsi, Prof. Baruch Schwarz, and lab members Hananel Rosenberg, Edith Bouton and Dr. Smadar Bar-Tal.
- Bouton, E., Bar-Tal, S., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2021). Students, social network technology and learning in higher education: Visions of collaborative knowledge construction vs. the reality of knowledge sharing.
- Asterhan & Bouton (2017). Teenage peer-to-peer knowledge sharing through social network sites in secondary schools
- Asterhan & Rosenberg (2015). The promise, reality and dilemmas of secondary school teacher-student interactions in Facebook: The teacher perspective.
- Schwarz, Rosenberg & Asterhan (2017). Breaking down barriers in education? Teachers, students and social network sites (in Hebrew). MOFET books
- Rosenberg & Asterhan (2018). What's App, teacher? Student perspectives on teacher-student WhatsApp interaction in secondary schools.
- Rosenberg, Ophir & Asterhan (2018). A Virtual Safe Zone: Teachers Supporting Teenage Student Resilience through Social Media in Times of War.
- Bouton, E., Bar-Tal, S., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2020). Students, social network technology and learning in higher education: Visions of collaborative knowledge construction vs. the reality of knowledge sharing
Social, affective and motivational dimensions of argumentation
Argumentation is in essence a social activity, often paired with emotional engagement. Yet, existing research has predominantly focused on the cognitive and rational dimensions of argumentation in learning contexts. Students often feel uncomfortable expressing disagreement or subjecting their own ideas to critique and inspection. In this line of research (funded a/o by PSLC), we aim to uncover and describe social, motivational and affective antecedents and processes of argumention in learning settings. We also distinguish between different argumentive dialogue styles (such as collaborative deliberation and dispute/debate) and predict that they have different learning potential.
- Asterhan (2018). Enablers and inhibitors of productive peer argumentation: Exploring the role of individual achievement goals and gender.
- Asterhan & Babichenko (2015). The social dimension of learning through argumentation: Effects of human presence and discourse style.
- Asterhan & Hever (2015). Learning from reading argumentive discussions in Facebook: Rhetoric style matters (again).
- Asterhan (2013). Epistemic and interpersonal dimensions of peer argumentation: Conceptualization and quantitative assessment.
- Asterhan, Butera, Nokes, Darnon, et al. (2010). Motivation and affect in peer argumentation and socio-cognitive conflict
- Asterhan & Schwarz (2016). Argumentation for learning: Well-trodden paths and unexplored territories.
Instructional approaches to conceptual change
In this ongoing line of studies (funded a/o by ISF) we test the effectiveness of different instructional approaches for conceptual change, such as peer argumentation, refutation text, learning from erroneous examples and corrective, contrasting feedback. Each of these is based on current models of the cognitive and non-cognitive processes involved in conceptual change types of learning. We also test how (some of) these can be combined to improve instructional effectiveness.
- Asterhan & Resnick (2020). Refutation text and argumnetation for conceptual change: A winning or a redundant combination?
- Asterhan & Schwarz (2007).The effects of monological and dialogical argumentation on concept learning in evolutionary theor
- Asterhan, Schwarz & Cohen-Eliyahu (2014). Conceptual change in proportional reasoning: Effects of collaboration, own/partner reasoning level and hypothesis testing
E-moderation of online dialogue
In this line of research, we studied how teachers and tutors moderate online discussions in educational settings. We asked questions such as, which moderation styles are more (or less) effective? How does e-moderation differ from facilitating student discussions in face-to-face settings? What do students expect from moderators and how do their behavior (as an intrusion? as facilitative?). Finally, in the EC-funded, multi-party ARGUNAUT project, a flexible, online e-moderator support tool was developed to provide e-moderators with learning analytics about the dialogue (continuously updated in real time), selected alerts and intervention tools (with a/o, Bruce McLaren, Matthias Krauss, Rupert Wegerif, Astrid Wichman, Ulrich Hoppe, Rakheli Hever, Baruch Schwarz, Reuma de Groot, Raul Drachman).
- Asterhan & Schwarz (2010). Online moderation of synchronous e-argumentation
- Schwarz & Asterhan (2011). E-moderation of synchronous discussion in educational settings: A nascent pratice
Classroom dialogue goes digital
In comparison with face-to-face formats, computer-mediated communication has several distinctive characteristics, such as persistence of communication content, disruptions of synchronicity, parallel communication, decrease in non-verbal cues, etc. In this line of studies, we have explored how these characeristics can facilitate (or inhibit) reasoned, collaborative discourse in classroom settings. It is closely related to our studies on e-moderation.
- Asterhan (2015). Introducing online dialogues in collocated classrooms: If, why and how.
- Asterhan, Schwarz & Gil (2011). Small-group, computer-mediated argumentation in middle-school classrooms: The effect of gender and online teacher guidance.