Computer-Based Scaffolding Targeting Individual Versus Groups in Problem-Centered Instruction for STEM Education: Meta-analysis

Nam Ju Kim, Brian R. Belland, Mason Lefler, Lindi Andreasen, Andrew Walker, Daryl Axelrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Computer-based scaffolding (CBS) has been regarded as an effective way to help individual students complete and gain skill at completing complex tasks beyond their current ability level. Previous meta-analyses also have demonstrated that CBS for collaborative learning leads to positive cognitive outcomes in problem-centered instruction for STEM education. However, while separate synthesis efforts have been conducted on CBS and collaboration guidance, little work has examined the intersection of these approaches. This study addresses this gap by examining the extent to which the effect of CBS is moderated by the group size in which students work, which type of CBS intervention was used in groups or individually, and whether CBS includes supports for both individual and group works or only individual learning. Results from 145 studies indicate that CBS leads to statistically significant cognitive learning effects when students solve problems individually, as well as working in pairs, triads, and small groups. Moderator analyses indicated that (a) effect sizes are higher when students worked in pairs than when they worked in triads, small groups, or individually; (b) the effect size of metacognitive scaffolding on group activity is higher than other types of scaffolding intervention; and (c) the effect size is higher for groups when scaffolding was present but collaboration support was absent. These results suggest that elaborated design and integration of CBS and collaboration guidance are considered to maximize students’ learning in problem-centered instruction within STEM education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-461
Number of pages47
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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