2007_Toomela_IPBS_collaboration (p)

2007_Toomela_IPBS_collaboration (p) - Integr Psych Behav...

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Sometimes One is More Than Two: When Collaboration Inhibits Knowledge Construction Aaro Toomela Published online: 24 August 2007 # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007 Abstract In this paper I suggest that to better understand knowledge construction in science, and the role of social processes and collaboration in it, it is useful to distinguish between elaborative knowledge and emergent knowledge. Elabora- tive knowledge is constructed for solving clearly defined problems in established theoretical frameworks, and emergent knowledge refers to the knowledge con- structed to reach a hierarchically higher and more complex level of scientific understanding. There are also two types of collaboration. On the one hand there is dialogical collaboration in which team members contribute to reaching the common clearly defined objective so that a team as a whole becomes qualitatively more complex than its members alone. On the other hand there is unidirectional collaboration where the result of collaboration is determined by one person, should be distinguished. There is evidence from multiple perspectives indicating that elaborative knowledge can be developed in both kinds of collaboration and sometimes dialogical collaboration is necessary for knowledge construction. However, for building emergent knowledge, it is argued, only individual or unidirectional collaboration is productive, and dialogical collaboration can hinder or even prevent the construction of this kind of knowledge. Keywords Collaboration . Dialogical . Knowledge . Methodology . Elaborative knowledge . Emergent knowledge The history of acceptance of new theories frequently shows the following steps: At first the new idea is treated as pure nonsense, not worth looking at. Then comes a time when a multitude of contradictory objections are raised, such as: the new theory is too fancy, or merely a new terminology; it is not fruitful, or Integr Psych Behav (2007) 41:198 207 DOI 10.1007/s12124-007-9015-x A. Toomela ( * ) Faculty of Education, University of Tartu, Salme 1a, 50103 Tartu, Estonia e-mail: aaro.toomela@ut.ee
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simply wrong. Finally a state is reached when everyone seems to claim that he had always followed this theory. This usually marks the last stage before general acceptance. (Lewin 1997 , p. 200) Creating novel knowledge is always a personal act. Knowledge can be created only by an individual, new knowledge can emerge only in the individual brain. It does not follow, however, that knowledge construction can fully be understood by studying individuals alone. On the contrary, knowledge construction is, while being an individual act, embedded in the social cultural environment. Without under- standing the social cultural contributions to knowledge construction it would be impossible to understand the whole process of creative thinking. Social Processes in Collaboration
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2007_Toomela_IPBS_collaboration (p) - Integr Psych Behav...

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