The interplay of cognitive and socio-emotional processes in social interaction. Process-oriented analyses of collaborative learning

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

University of Oulu, Linnanmaa campus, lecture hall L2, Remote access:

Topic of the dissertation

The interplay of cognitive and socio-emotional processes in social interaction. Process-oriented analyses of collaborative learning

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts Jaana Isohätälä

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Education, Learning and Educational Technology research unit

Subject of study



Doctor Kristine Lund, University of Lyon


Professor Sanna Järvelä, University of Oulu

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Socio-emotional interaction supports skillful group work

Knowledge and emotions intertwine in small groups’ social interaction. Socio-emotional interaction helped students to regulate their collaborative learning and engage in argumentation.

The dissertation describes how teacher education students discussed knowledge, expressed their feelings, and got along in group work situations. The results suggest that expressing emotions and supporting each other encouraged students to participate in social interaction.

Socio-emotional interaction intertwined especially with regulation of learning; that is, the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of learning. Expressing negative emotions revealed challenges but encouraged students to support each other and solve the problems. The dissertation illustrates how encouragement and praise could help groups move from frustration to shared excitement. These moments helped groups continue joint collaboration with their tasks.

Fostering a positive socio-emotional climate was also evident during argumentation. The dissertation describes how students subtly used words and gestures to express their claims tentatively, considered divergent perspectives, and relaxed tensions created by the debate. Argumentation, however, was rare in students’ group work. This suggests that students may shy away from critical discussions or undervalue them.

The results of the dissertation are based on the qualitative analysis of video-recorded, face-to-face social interaction, which was complemented by students’ and a teacher’s evaluations of the quality of social interaction. The participants were forty-three Finnish teacher education students who collaborated in groups of four in mathematics and environmental science classes.

In light of the results, it is natural that group and team work are often considered to be demanding. There is a need to practice socio-emotional interactions as part of skillful group work in educational institutes and work-places – even in online collaborations.
Last updated: 1.3.2023