Patterns of adaptive regulation in collaborative learning – a multimodal methodological approach

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

Patterns of adaptive regulation in collaborative learning – a multimodal methodological approach

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts (Education) Marta Sobocinski

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Education, Learning and Educational Technology (LET)

Subject of study



Associate Professor Anique de Bruijn, Maastricht University


Professor Sanna Järvelä, University of Oulu

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How do collaborative groups adapt to challenges?

People are required to collaborate in various contexts: in school, workplace and while engaging in hobbies. However, collaborative learning does not happen automatically, and groups often fail. To support collaboration, there is a need to look at how challenges affect the process of group work, and how successful groups adapt to challenges.

The results of this dissertation confirm that these “adaptively regulating” groups first monitor their progress and then jointly recognize the challenge, and finally, adapt to challenges by returning to planning phase when needed.

This dissertation explores how adaptive regulation occurs in collaborative learning using multiple data sources (video, heart rate, log-data). The data was collected from higher-education and high-school students, while participating in their usual classes. Novel analytical methods have been used to study the process of learning.

Until recently, it has been difficult to capture adaptation during learning because it is embedded in the learning process. The data sources were chosen because they offer an insight into the process and an innovative solution for capturing adaptation in face-to-face collaboration. For instance, the changes in the heart rates of group members have the potential to reveal whether the group is on track or engaged in maladaptive behavior.

The results also give an insight into how adaptation happens during learning. To overcome challenges, successful groups jointly monitored their progress against their goals, and when a discrepancy was noticed, they to acknowledged it and verbalized it. Through discussion, the group decided the appropriate way to progress, which in some cases required them to return and rework their plans.

This dissertation also revealed that groups can take many different paths to success and returning to a previous phase of work is sometimes necessary. For pedagogical practice, this study signals a need for adaptive support during the learning process: the road to success is not always a straight line, and the support provided to students needs to acknowledge that. For example, developing technologies to support face-to-face collaborative learning can build on these results by making available planning tools throughout the learning process.
Last updated: 4.6.2021