Publications

2021
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. Teaching and Teacher Education , 105, 103417. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We explore how problem framing shapes teacher dialogue in teacher-led, school-based peer consultations. Twenty audio-recorded workgroup conversations were analyzed using a mixed-methods approach. Three different frames for presenting problems of practice were identified: teaching-, student- and classroom composition-oriented. Quantitative analyses showed associations between problem frames and the ensuing positioning of teachers as main agentive actors. In-depth qualitative analysis of two focal cases of low-teacher-agency problem frames (student- and classroom composition-oriented) revealed that psychologized discourses and attribution of responsibility to parents contributed to reduction of teacher responsibility and concomitant limited agency, and that initial problem frames were resistant to reframing.

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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. The Internet & Higher Education , 49, 100787. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

Despite visions of social network technology (SNT) for collaborative knowledge construction, recent research in secondary schools suggest that students use these tools mainly for knowledge sharing of study-related artifacts. We extend these findings to higher education settings and report on two survey studies that map characteristics of students’ self-directed use of SNTs for study purposes, in undergraduate university programs (N = 264) and teacher training colleges (N = 449). The combined findings confirm that students use SNTs extensively for uploading, linking and downloading study-related artifacts in peer-directed SNT groups. They regard these practices positively and believe they improve academic achievements. Sharing was predicted by positive attitudes toward sharing and collectivist value orientations, motivated overall by prosocial reasons and less frequent in competitive study programs. Use of shared materials was associated with performance-avoidance achievement goals and lower GPA. Findings, directions for future research and implications are discussed in the context of learning theories, as well the knowledge sharing literature.

 

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2020
Asterhan, C. S. C., & Lefstein, A. (2020). Teacher Professional Development: Structures, Strategies, Principles and Effectiveness (in Hebrew). In M. Mikulincer & R. Parzanchevsky-Amir (Ed.), Optimal management of professional development and training in the education system – Status report and recommendations (pp. 44-53) . Jerusalem: Yozma – Centre for Knowledge and Research in Education, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Publisher's Version
Ophir, Y., Tikochinski, R., Asterhan, C. S. C., Sisso, I., & Reichart, R. (2020). Deep neural network models detect suicide risk from textual Facebook postings. Nature Scientific Reports , 10, 16685. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Detection of suicide risk is a highly prioritized, yet complicated task. Five decades of research have produced predictions slightly better than chance (AUCs = 0.56 – 0.58). In this study, Artificial Neural Network (ANN) models were constructed to predict suicide risk from everyday language of social media users. The dataset included 83,292 postings authored by 1,002 authenticated Facebook users, alongside valid psychosocial information about the users. Using Deep Contextualized Word Embeddings for text representation, two models were constructed: A Single Task Model (STM), to predict suicide risk from Facebook postings directly (Facebook texts → suicide) and a Multi-Task Model (MTM), which included hierarchical, multilayered sets of theory-driven risk factors (Facebook texts → personality traits → psychosocial risks → psychiatric disorders → suicide). Compared with the STM predictions (.621 ≤ AUC ≤ .629), the MTM produced significantly improved prediction accuracy (.697 ≤ AUC ≤ .746), with substantially larger effect sizes (.729 ≤ d ≤ .936). Subsequent content analyses suggested that predictions did not rely on explicit suicide-related themes, but on a range of text features. The findings suggest that machine learning based analyses of everyday social media activity can improve suicide risk predictions and contribute to the development of practical detection tools.

 

Detection of suicide risk is a highly prioritized, yet complicated task. Five decades of research have produced predictions slightly better than chance (AUCs = 0.56 – 0.58). In this study, Artificial Neural Network (ANN) models were constructed to predict suicide risk from everyday language of social media users. The dataset included 83,292 postings authored by 1,002 authenticated Facebook users, alongside clinically valid psychosocial information about the users. Using Deep Contextualized Word Embeddings for text representation, two models were constructed: A Single Task Model (STM), to predict suicide risk from Facebook postings directly (Facebook texts → suicide) and a Multi-Task Model (MTM), which included hierarchical, multilayered sets of theory-driven risk factors (Facebook texts → personality traits → psychosocial risks → psychiatric disorders → suicide). Compared with the STM predictions (.606 621 ≤ AUC ≤ .608629), the MTM produced significantly improved prediction accuracy (.690 697 ≤ AUC ≤ .759746), with substantially larger effect sizes (.701 729 ≤ d ≤ .994936). Subsequent content analyses suggested that predictions did not rely on explicit suicide-related themes, but on a range of text features. The findings suggest that machine learning based analyses of everyday social media activity can improve suicide risk predictions and contribute to the development of practical detection tools.

 

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Asterhan, C. S. C., Howe, C., Lefstein, A., Matusov, E., & Reznitskaya, A. (2020). Controversies and consensus in research on dialogic teaching and learning. Journal of Dialogic Pedagogy , 8. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

Scholarly interest in dialogic pedagogy and classroom dialogue is multi-disciplinary and draws on a variety of theoretical frameworks. On the positive side, this has produced a rich and varied body of research and evidence. However, in spite of a common interest in educational dialogue and learning through dialogue, cross-disciplinary engagement with each other’s work is rare. Scholarly discussions and publications tend to be clustered in separate communities, each characterized by a particular type of research questions, aspects of dialogue they focus on, type of evidence they bring to bear, and ways in which standards for rigor are constructed. In the present contribution, we asked four leading scholars from different research traditions to react to four provocative statements that were deliberately designed to reveal areas of consensus and disagreement. Topic-wise, the provocations related to theoretical foundations, methodological assumptions, the role of teachers, and issues of inclusion and social class, respectively. We hope that these contributions will stimulate cross- and trans-disciplinary discussions about dialogic pedagogy research and theory.

 

 

 

 

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Asterhan, C. S. C., & Resnick, M. (2020). Refutation texts and argumentation for conceptual change:A winning or a redundant combination?. Learning & Instruction , 65. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

Effective instruction for conceptual change should aim to reduce the interference of irrelevant knowledge structures, as well as to improve sense-making of counterintuitive scientific notions. Refutation texts are designed to support such processes, yet evidence for its effect on individual conceptual change of robust, complex misconceptions has not been equivocal. In the present work, we examine whether effects of refutation text reading on conceptual change in biological evolution can be augmented with subsequent peer argumentation activities. Hundred undergraduates read a refutation text followed by either peer argumentation on erroneous worked-out solutions or by standard, individual problem solving. Control group subjects read an expository text followed by individual problem solving. Results showed strong effects for the refutation text. Surprisingly, subsequent peer argumentation did not further improve learning gains after refutation text reading. Dialogue protocols analyses showed that gaining dyads were more likely to be symmetrical and to discuss core conceptual principles.

 

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Ophir, Y., Sisso, I., Asterhan, C. S. C., Tickochinski, R., & Reichart, R. (2020). The Turker blues: Hidden factors behind increased depression rates in Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Clinical Psychological Science , 8 (1), 65-83. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Data collection from online platforms, such as Mechanical Turk (MTurk), has become popular in clinical research. However, there are also concerns about the representativeness and the quality of this data for clinical studies. The present work explores these issues in the specific case of major depression. Analyses of two large data sets gathered from MTurk (N1 = 2,692 and N2 = 2,354) revealed two major findings: First, failing to screen for inattentive and fake respondents inflates the rates of major depression artificially and significantly (to 18.5% to 27.5%). Second, after cleaning the data sets, depression in MTurk is still 1.6 to 3.6 times higher than general population estimates. Approximately half of this difference can be attributed to differences in the composition of MTurk samples and the general population (i.e., socio-demographics, health and physical activity lifestyle). Several explanations for the other half are proposed and practical data-quality tools are provided.

 

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2019
Ophir, Y., Asterhan, C. S. C., & Schwarz, B. B. (2019). The digital footprints of adolescent depression, social rejection and victimization of bullying on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior , 91, 62-71.Abstract

 

Online Social Networking Sites (SNSs) are immensely popular, especially among adolescents. Activity on these sites leaves digital footprints, which may be used to study online behavioral correlates of adolescent psychological distress and to, ultimately, improve detection and intervention efforts. In the present work, we explore the digital footprints of adolescent depression, social rejection, and victimization of bullying on Facebook. Two consecutive studies were conducted among Israeli adolescents (N = 86 and N = 162). We collected a range of Facebook activity features, as well as self-report measurements of depression, social rejection, and victimization of bullying. Findings from Study 1 demonstrate that explicit distress references in Facebook postings (e.g., "Life sucks, I want to die") predict depression among adolescents, but that such explicit distress references are rare. In Study 2, we applied a bottom-up research methodology along with the previous top-down, theory driven approach. Study 2 demonstrates that less explicit features of Facebook behavior predict social rejection and victimization of bullying. These features include 'posts by others', 'check-ins', 'gothic and dark content', 'other people in pictures', and 'positive attitudes towards others'. The potential, promises and limitations of using digital Facebook footprints for the detection of adolescent psychological distress are discussed.

 

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2018
Rosenberg, H., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2018). WhatsApp, teacher? Secondary school teachers and students on WhatsApp. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research , 17, 205-226.Abstract

 

Aim/Purpose

In this paper, we analyze the phenomenon of "classroom WhatsApp groups", in which a teacher and students from a particular classroom interact with one another, while specifically focusing on the student perspective of these interactions.

Background

The instant messaging application WhatsApp enables quick, interactive multimedia communication in closed groups, as well as one-on-one interactions between selected group members. Yet, very little is known about the extent, nature and purposes of these practices, the limitations and affordances, the type of discourse and conflicts that develop in these spaces, and the extent to which it affects teacher-student interactions outside of WhatsApp (e.g., the social climate in class, the teacher's status, teacher-student and student-student relations), especially from the students' perspective.

Methodology

Our methodology combines questionnaires, personal interviews and focus groups with Israeli secondary school students (N = 88).

Contribution

The present study adds to the expanding body of empirical research on social media use in educational settings by specifically focusing on a heretofore underexposed aspect, namely secondary school student-teacher communication in the popular instant messaging application WhatsApp. We report on findings from the student perspective and discuss the advantages and limitations of this form of communication sphere, and on the social functions of the different classroom WhatsApp groups in secondary school students' everyday life.

Findings

The combined findings reveal that classroom WhatsApp groups have become a central channel of communication for school-related topics. It is used primarily for organizational purposes (sending and receiving updates and managing learning activities), as well as a means for teachers to enforce discipline. Students mentioned many advantages of WhatsApp communication, such as easy access, the ability to create communities, the ability to safeguard personal privacy, and the communication format (written, mediated, personal or group). However, they also recognized limitations (i.e., communication overload) and challenged teacher ability to monitor and affect student interactions in social media, even when they are present in these WhatsApp classroom groups. Finally, we report on the role of parallel, sans-teacher WhatsApp groups, which are characterized as back stage discourse arenas that accompany the front stage offline classroom activities and the ”official” classroom WhatsApp group.

Recommendations
for Practitioners

The combined findings of this study indicate how WhatsApp-based, joint teacher-student groups can serve a variety of educational purposes, namely organizational, instructional, and educational-disciplinary. In addition, and in spite of teachers concerns, students are aware of the challenges inherent to the use of WhatsApp for communication with their teachers. Some of the main characteristics that prevent teachers from using other ubiquitous digital communication media, such as Facebook or Twitter, are not relevant when it comes to WhatsApp. Both teachers and students view WhatsApp as a favored channel of communication, because of the low exposure to personal information and minimal invasion of privacy.

Future Research

The qualitative methodology of this paper limits the ability to generalize the current findings to other contexts and population groups. Future research should preferably explore the generalizability of our findings to larger sections of teenage populations. It should also explore similarities and differences with other age groups. Finally, the present study was set in a particular country (Israel). Local norms of cellphone use and of appropriate teacher-student interaction, as well as locally developed media domestication patterns may differ from country to country and/or from one cultural group to another. Future research should then include and compare the current findings with data from different countries and cultures in order to complete the picture.

 

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Asterhan, C. S. C. (2018). Enablers and inhibitors of productive peer argumentation: Exploring the role of individual achievement goals and gender. Contemporary Educational Psychology , 54, 66-78. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Argumentation has been recognized as an important classroom activity and as a potentially powerful means for learning complex academic content. However, eliciting and sustaining student-to-student argumentive discourse that is both critical as well as constructive is also known to be notoriously difficult. Whereas previous research has traditionally focused on the cognitive, meta-cognitive and task-related antecedents and conditions for productive student argumentation, in the present work we explore two social-motivational factors that may provide insight into this difficulty, namely students' individual achievement goals and gender. In two separate studies, undergraduate students indicated their intentions to engage in different discourse types when asked to discuss their solutions to a complex topic from astronomy (N = 245, Study 1) or economics (N = 98, Study 2) with a disagreeing peer. In addition to the productive, ideal type of argumentive discourse for learning purposes (i.e., deliberative argumentation), three additional discourse types were targeted that typically ensue, but are considered less productive (i.e., disputative argumentation, quick consensus seeking and private deliberation). The overall pattern of results show that mastery goals (a focus on developing competence and task mastery) are associated with deliberative argumentation and with private deliberation. In contrast, performance-approach goals (a focus on demonstrating competence relative to others) as well as high confidence are associated with disputative peer argumentation. Quick consensus seeking was predicted by higher performance-avoidance goals (a focus on avoiding incompetence relative to others) and lower mastery goals. No consistent gender differences were found. Taken together, the results extend previous work in socio-cognitive conflict settings and emphasize the role of achievement goals in peer argumentation.

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Rosenberg, H., Ophir, Y., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2018). A Virtual Safe Zone: Teachers Supporting Teenage Student Resilience through Social Media in Times of War. Teaching and Teacher Education , 73, 35-42. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We examine how teacher-student communication through social network technologies may support student resilience during an ongoing war (i.e., the 2014 Israel-Gaza war). Based on student responses from open-ended surveys (N = 68), five content categories of emotional support were identified: caring, reassuring, emotion sharing, belonging, and distracting. The mere existence of continuous online contact with teachers also contributed to resilience perceptions. Interviews with 11 secondary school teachers revealed three main purposes for this communication: (a) delivering emotional support to students, (b) monitoring their distress; and (c) maintaining civilized norms of discourse. Practical implications and theoretical contributions are discussed.

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Asterhan, C. S. C., & Dotan, A. (2018). Feedback that corrects and contrasts students' erroneous solutions with expert ones improves expository instruction for conceptual change. Instructional Science , 46, 337-355. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the present study, we examined the effects of feedback that corrects and contrasts a

student's own erroneous solutions with the canonical, correct one (CEC&C feedback)

on learning in a conceptual change task. Sixty undergraduate students received

expository instruction about natural selection, which presented the canonical,

scientifically accepted account in detail. Two-third of these received CEC&C feedback on their self-generated solutions to open-ended test items. Students either received this feedback on their pretest solutions (prior to instruction), or on their immediate post-test solutions (following instruction). Students in the control condition only received the correct canonical answers to the immediate post-test items and compared these with their own solutions autonomously. Conceptual understanding on transfer items was assessed after one week. Results showed that students in the CEC&C feedback conditions outperformed control students. Timing of feedback did not affect learning, however. These findings add to accumulating evidence from different lines of research on the importance of instructional support that explicitly compares and contrasts between erroneous student models and canonical models in conceptual change tasks.

 

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Resnick, L. B., Asterhan, C. S. C., Clarke, S. N., & with Schantz, F. (2018). Next Generation Research in Dialogic Learning. In G. E. Hall, L. F. Quinn, & D. M. Gollnick (Ed.), Wiley Handbook on Teaching and Learning (pp. 323-338) . Wiley-Blackwell. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

A small but powerful body of evidence shows that certain forms of classroom discussion can produce learning gains that go beyond the topics actually discussed. In a range of countries, students who engaged in dialogue showed better initial learning and retained their learning gains for longer periods when compared to untreated comparison groups. In some cases, students who were engaged in learning through dialogue even outperformed their untreated counterparts. In this chapter, we review the evidence and consider why dialogue might produce these effects, looking at both cognitive and motivational-social explanations. Despite evidence of the surprising and robust effects on student learning, it is rare to find dialogic teaching in the classroom. We propose explanations for the resistance to it, from individual teachers and from the system, and suggest that opening up opportunities for more students to learn through dialogue will require researchers and practitioners to work together in new ways.

 

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Resnick, L. B., Asterhan, C. S. C., & Clarke, S. N. (2018). Accountable talk: Instructional dialogue that builds the mind . The International Academy of Education (IAE) and the International Bureau of Education (IBE) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Publisher's Version pdf
2017
Bar-Tal, S., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2017). Going behind the scenes at teacher colleges: Online student knowledge sharing through social network technologies. Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning , 13, 167-184.Abstract

The present study aims to describe existing peer-to-peer, social network-based sharing practices among adult students in teacher colleges.

Ubiquitous social network sites open up a wide array of possibilities for peer-to-peer information and knowledge sharing. College instructors are often unaware of such practices that happen behind the scenes.

An interpretative, qualitative research methodology was used. Thirty-seven Israeli students at a teacher college in Israel participated in either focus group discussions of (N = 29) or in-depth interviews (N = 8).

Whereas knowledge sharing has been a main focus of research in organizational and information sciences, its relevance to educational settings has thus far been underscored. Recent research shows that peer–to-peer knowledge sharing is widespread among teenage students. The current study extends that work to an adult student population.

The findings show thatknowledge sharing of this type is a common and even central feature of students' college life and study behavior. It takes place through a variety of small and larger social network-based peer groups of different formations, including mostly college students but at time also practicing, experienced teachers. Sharing groups are formed on the spot for short term purposes or are stable, continuous over longer time periods. The contents shared are predominantly lesson summaries, material for exams, reading summaries and lesson plans. They are used immediately or stored for future use, as students have access to vast data bases of stored materials that have been compiled throughout the years by students of previous cohorts. Teacher students mentioned a range of reasons for sharing, and overall regard it very positive. However, some downsides were also acknowledged (i.e., superficial learning, exclusion, attentional overload and interruptions).

College faculty and teaching staff should be cognizant and informed about these widespread peer-based knowledge sharing practices and consider whether perhaps changes in teaching formats and task assignments are required as a result.

Future research should extend this work to other higher education settings, cultures and countries, and should map the perceptions of higher education teaching staff about peer-to-peer, online knowledge sharing. 

 

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Schwarz, B., Rosenberg, H., & Asterhan, C. (Ed.). (2017). Breaking down barriers? Teachers, students and social networks (in Hebrew) . Tel Aviv: MOFET books. pdf
Asterhan, C. S. C., & Bouton, E. (2017). Teenage peer-to-peer knowledge sharing through social network sites in secondary schools. Computers & Education , 110, 16-34. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The promise of social network technology for learning purposes has been heavily debated, with proponents highlighting its transformative and opponents its distracting potential. However, little is known about the actual, everyday use of ubiquitous social network sites for learning and study purposes in secondary schools. In the present work, we present findings from two survey studies on representative samples of Israeli, Hebrew-speaking teenagers (N1 = 206 and N2 = 515) which explored the scope, characteristics and reasons behind such activities. Study 1 shows that these can be described best as online knowledge sharing, that is: the up- and downloading of knowledge and knowledge sources to social network-based peer groups. Findings were replicated in study 2 to further support the claim that school-related knowledge sharing is common and widespread and entails different types of knowledge. Findings from study 2 furthermore show that sharing is mainly motivated by prosocial motives, as well as expectations for future reciprocation. Sharing is predicted by individual differences, such as gender, collectivist values, mastery goal orientations and academic self-efficacy. Relations between competitive-individualist values and sharing are more complex, and are, among others, moderated by expectations for future benefits. Implications for educational practices and for learning are discussed.

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Schwarz, B. B., Rosenberg, H., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2017). Teachers, students and social network sites (in Hebrew). In Breaking down barriers in education? Teachers, students and social network sites (pp. 5-22) . Tel Aviv: MOFET books. english_abstracts
Ophir, Y., Asterhan, C. S. C., & Schwarz, B. B. (2017). Unfolding the notes from the wall: Adolescents' depression manifestations on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior , 72, 96-107. Publisher's Version pdf
Rosenberg, H., Ophir, Y., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2017). Building adolescent resilience: Teacher-student social network communication in times of political violence (in Hebrew). In Breaking down barriers? Teachers, students and social network sites . Tel Aviv: MOFET books.Abstract

In this multi-method study, we examined the extent and nature of teacher-student communication on Social Network Sites (SNS) during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, from students and teachers point of view. Corresponding with the literature on adolescent SNS usage, participants in the current sample were found to be frequent users of SNS. During the war, a time of major stress, this extensive usage even increased further. The first step of the study indicated a large scope of teacher-student communication in times of war. Based on student reports, we found that more than half of the adolescent participants communicate with their teachers via SNSs during the war (mainly through WhatsApp); and that the main purpose of this communication was to lend and receive emotional support. Moreover, the majority of participating adolescents expressed their appreciation of this communication and believed it to be helpful. From the students’ point of view, the study revealed five distinct themes of emotional support on SNS during the war: caring, reassuring, emotional sharing, belonging, and distracting. From the teachers’ point of view, it was evident that teachers: (a) recognize their central psychosocial role in times of war and appreciate the opportunities that arise from SNS communication to deliver emotional support to their students, (b) dedicate their efforts to monitor distress through SNS, and (c) maintain norms of civilized and sensitive discourse. Techers also engage among themselves in moral discussions regarding the advantages and risks of SNS communication with students. The implications of these findings may include the creation of specialized training program for teachers, which will support their efforts in times of crisis.

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