CCE Theses and Dissertations


Student Adoption of a Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning(CSCL) Mathematical Problem Solving Environment: The Case of The Math Forum's Virtual Math Teams (VMT) Chat Service

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Ling Wang

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Helen St. Aubin


Numerous studies suggest that collaborative learning enhances the knowledge-building discourse. Emerging literature suggests that students can learn and understand mathematical concepts in an enriched way when the subject is approached in a discursive, collaborative fashion.

In implementation to date, however, carefully designed online collaborative problem solving exercises have been insufficiently supported by student participation. This study examined the experience of one particular CSCL program, Virtual Math Teams (VMT) Project, which uses a collaborative problem-solving approach to mathematics. The intention of this program is to get students to work together online to solve mathematics problems. The distinctive feature of this exercise is a collaborative effort by a group of students to solve a problem.

The problem investigated in this study was why students showed resistance to using the Virtual Math Teams (VMT) chat service tools, and what methods may be used to motivate students to engage in these collaborative problem-solving exercises. The goals of this study were to examine The Math Forum's program experience to determine why the collaborative exercise VMT Chat is beset by student refusal to register and participate, and why the number of registrants and participants in the individually oriented Problems of the Week (POW) are substantially higher than those of the VMT Chat. This study helped determine what factors motivate students to register and participate in this program.

Four reasons for a lack of participation in the VMT Chat program were found: a lack of teacher encouragement, a lack of integration of the VMT Chat program in math classes, a potentially confusing and difficult to use computer environment for the VMT Chat program, and a lack of available information, advertising, and marketing for the program. The study contributes to the knowledge of online learning and collaboration by the determination of why participants are resistant to registering and participating in the VMT Chat; and factors that help to motivate users to shift from acting as individually oriented problem solving users to online problem solving collaborators.

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