Shared meaning-making in online intergroup discussions around sensitive topics

Tugce Aldemir, Marcela Borge, Jose Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Shared meaning-making across differences in today’s polarized society requires a socio-political perspective toward conceptualizing and operationalizing collaborative competence. Thus, there is a pressing need for socio-political pedagogies and designs in CSCL to empower students as cultural-historical agents who can communicate and work effectively across different communities. As the initial steps of our larger efforts to conceptualize and operationalize a model of multicultural collaborative competence (MCC), we explore communication patterns associated with productive and dysfunctional shared meaning-making around difficult topics related to identity (e.g., race, gender) during intergroup dialogues in a CSCL context. We also examine how our preexisting, general model of collaborative competence (GCC) aligns with these communication patterns to explore (1) whether GCC is robust enough to capture the socio-political dynamics of difficult dialogues and (2) the ways in which we could modify it to better address the tensions between GCC and MCC goals. We collected the discussion transcripts of four three-person teams over two-time points from an undergraduate Multicultural Psychology course. We first conducted thematic and cross-case analyses to identify the communication patterns and behaviors associated with productive and dysfunctional shared meaning-making processes in the context of difficult dialogues (i.e., MCC). We then employed another set of cross-case analyses to examine the relationship between the multicultural collaborative competencies (MCC) and general collaborative competencies (GCC). We found four main communication patterns associated with MCC: (1) grounding with narratives and aims, (2) exploring differences and commonalities of narratives/perspectives, (3) critical reflection of diverse narratives/perspectives, and (4) providing emotional support to team members. We also found that although the GCC does not cover these communication patterns and associated behaviors, there were some overlaps between the sophistication of multiculturally competent communication patterns and collaboration quality as defined by the GCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-396
Number of pages36
JournalInternational Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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