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Sustaining Collaborative Knowledge Building: Continuity in Virtual Math Teams

By Johann W. Sarmiento-Klapper

Topic: This dissertation explores the ways that virtual teams overcome gaps in their sustained knowledge building by analyzing sequences of online, collaborative, problem-solving sessions held by virtual teams of secondary students who participated in Virtual Math Teams (VMT) online community at The Math Forum. In particular, we focused on two sources of discontinuity in the teams' collective work: The discontinuity of their discrete sequence of collaboration sessions and those emerging from the changes in group participation over time. Our analysis aimed at understanding how the teams "bridged" the apparent discontinuity of their collaborative interactions and exploring the role that such bridging activity played in their knowledge building over time.

Members of the dissertation committee: Gerry Stahl (chair), Susan Gasson, Robert Allen, Wesley Shumar, Steven Weimar
Defense date, time and place: Wednesday May 27th, 2009. 10:30 am to 12:00 pm RUSH 014 (basement)

The dissertation

Latest version of the dissertation (PDF)

The video

video of Johann's presentation

The podcast

audio podcast to Johann's presentation

The conference paper

Sarmiento, J., & Stahl, G. (2008). Extending the joint problem space: Time and sequence as essential features of knowledge building. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2008), Utrecht, Netherlands. Available at Nominated for best student paper at ICLS 2008.

How Online Small Groups Co-construct Mathematical Artifacts to do Collaborative Problem Solving

By Murat Perit Cakir

Topic: This dissertation investigates how small groups co-construct mathematical artifacts in a virtual environment with multiple interaction spaces. More specifically, the study focuses on the development of interactional practices through which small groups of students coordinate their actions across multiple spaces as they collectively construct and reason with various forms of mathematical artifacts to investigate open-ended math problems online. Based on ethnomethodological case studies of excerpts obtained from online problem solving sessions the dissertation argues that the joint mathematical understanding of small groups develops through joint recognition of connections among different realizations of the mathematical artifacts group members bring in to bear with their shared task. In particular, representational and referential practices enacted by the users facilitate the coordinated use of multiple realizations of the math concepts relevant to the task at hand and their reification into shared mathematical object(s) for the group.
Members of the dissertation committee: Gerry Stahl (chair), Rosina Weber, Michael Khoo, Jason Silverman, Steve Weimar, Alan Zemel
Defense date, time and place: Wednesday May 27th, 2009. 14:00 to 15:30, RUSH 014 (basement)

The dissertation

Latest version of the dissertation (PDF)

The slides

Slides (PDF) Backup slides (PDF)

The video

Video of Murat's presentation

The podcast

Audio podcast of Murat's presentation

The journal article

Çakır, M. P., Zemel, A., & Stahl, G. (2009). The joint organization of interaction within a multimodal CSCL medium. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(2), 115-149. Available at and at

Troubles of Understanding in Virtual Math Teams

By Nan Zhou

Topic: When groups engage in math problem solving in an online environment like the VMT (Virtual Math Teams) service, they can face significant challenges from troubles of individual and group understanding that emerge in their problem-solving process. We are interested in how shared understanding is interactionally constructed and accomplished in a collectivity engaged in mathematical reasoning and problem solving in the VMT environment when understanding troubles or differences of understanding between members arise. From our analyses of chat interactions of such collectivities, we have come to see that it is by attending to, managing, and resolving troubles of understanding that shared understanding is achieved. This dissertation investigates the practices by which participants introduce and present such troubles of understanding and how these problems are managed and dealt with by members of the collectivity. In particular, by analyzing the episodes of interaction of VMT groups, we document the interactional methods employed by participants to initiate and constitute their troubles as such and we explicate the procedures involved by which those troubles are addressed.
Members of the dissertation committee: Gerry Stahl (chair), Alan Zemel, Robert Allen, Michael Khoo, Denise Agosto
Defense date, time and place: Monday August 2nd, 2010. 10:00 to 12:30, RUSH 014 (basement)

The dissertation

Latest version of the dissertation (PDF)

The slides


Turns, Sequences and Inscriptions: Investigating Representational Practice in a Semiotic-Rich Online Environment

By Richard Medina

Department of Computer Science
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu
August 2013

Reinventing Mathematics Problem Design and Analysis of Chat Interactions in Quasi-Synchronous Chat Environments

By Juan Dee Wee

National Institute of Education
Nanyang Techological University, Singapore
June 2009

Integration Dualer Interaktionsräume: Die Verknüpfung von textbasierter synchroner Kommunikation mit diskreten Konstruktionswerkzeugen

The Integration of Dual-Interaction Spaces: The Connection of Text-Based Synchronous Communication with Graphical Construction Tools [in German]

By Martin Mühlpfordt

Fakultät für Mathematik und Informatik
Fern Universitaet in Hagen, Germany
Dezember 2008

Student Adoption of a Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) Mathematical Problem Solving Environment: The Case of The Math Forum’s Virtual Math Teams (VMT) Chat Service

By Ilene R. Litz

School of Computer and Information Sciences
Nova Southeastern University
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