Collaborative problem solving as a multi-level approach to learning (as a student) and networking (as a professional)

In the ever-evolving education and research landscapes, the complexity of problems demands a collaborative approach that leverages the diverse strengths and expertise of various thinkers. When researchers come together, pooling their knowledge and resources, they create a synergy that can lead to innovative solutions and breakthrough discoveries.
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In September this year we had Dr. Sebastian Strauß from Ruhr University Bochum visiting LET Lab to share his expertise and learn more from our experts about how students regulate and reflect on their interactions in groups in collaborative problem-solving contexts. Here are some of his insights.

University of Oulu and LET Lab make Oulu an attraction point for learning scientists

“In September 2023, I packed my bags and got on a plane to visit the Learning and Educational Technology Research (LET) Lab in the very north – the University of Oulu in Finland. This was not my first time visiting this lab; in spring 2022 I had a chance to participate in the GenZ Talks seminar together with Prof. Nikol Rummel. Then, I also got to meet the LET Lab team and share some of my research and ideas. The team welcomed me warmly, so I decided to come again! This time with my luggage: video data from a project on interdisciplinary collaboration,” Dr. Sebastian Strauß says.

“The LET Lab is well known for their innovative work on the regulation of learning in small groups. Having worked on collaborative learning and problem solving myself, visiting LET thus was a great opportunity for me to learn more about how groups regulate their interaction and how we as researchers can analyze data that stem from collaboration”, says Dr. Strauß about his decision to come back up north once again.

Exploring Collaborative Reflection of Students through Collaborative Discussions with Researchers

Sebastian spent the whole September with us, which means that he had quite some time to mingle with our researchers and collaborate with them.

“I had a full month which provided me with room for more in-depth discussions and time for joint work. The goal for my stay was to analyze video data of small groups that engaged in collaboration reflection after they had tried to solve a problem. Together with Prof. Sanna Järvelä and the soon-to-be Dr. Ahsen Çini I worked to develop a strategy on how we can better understand how these groups monitored the quality of their collaboration and what conclusions they drew from their collaborative reflection. In brief: the focus was on how groups turn reflection into action.”

“The LET research group's expertise in analyzing data from collaboration processes, particularly in terms of socially shared regulation, was invaluable for my study and helped me think about regulation in different ways,” he continues.

“Their knowledge and experience enhanced my research approach and allowed me to explore new angles within my field. While the data analysis is still ongoing, I am confident that we succeeded together at solving this problem and found an interesting angle to investigate collaborative reflection.”

Research with Arctic Attitude: Interdisciplinary Exchange

Sebastian’s time at LET Lab was not only about enhancing his own research; he also had numerous opportunities to present his expertise to our team and master students, as well as had individual in-depth discussions with our doctoral and post-doctoral researchers on their ongoing work.

“Presenting one’s own work is not only about presenting what you do; it is a valuable opportunity to get feedback and discuss with others on how to do it and what else can be done. And we did that! From my earlier experiences, I find discussions a valuable and inspiring tool for all who do research and I hope that I passed on this positive experience to the young researchers of LET.”

The Power of International Collaboration

Dr. Strauß’s visit to Oulu and to LET Lab would not be possible without international networks and collaboration. “I am grateful for the connections that I could form during my stay and all the support that I received while in Oulu. Obviously, such a stay is not possible without funding. This opportunity was made possible through the international and interdisciplinary network Self-Regulated Learning in Digitalized Schools funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).”

As we can see from Dr. Strauß's experience, the power of international collaboration and networking extend far beyond the sharing of knowledge; they offer a platform for socializing, mentorship, and the forging of long-term professional relationships.

Co-author Sebastian Strauß


Learning and Learning Process
University of Oulu

Kateryna Zabolotna is a doctoral researcher at the LET Lab. Her dissertation explores how socially shared regulation of learning and knowledge construction interplay and support one another in various collaborative learning contexts.