When being worse helps: The influence of upward social comparisons and knowledge awareness on learner engagement and learning in peer-to-peer knowledge exchange

Josephine Neugebauer, Devin G Ray, Kai Sassenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Providing learners with awareness of a learning partner's knowledge supports knowledge exchange. However, such knowledge awareness enables social comparison. Because people strive for positive self-evaluation, we propose that less knowledgeable learners who rely on social comparisons for self-evaluation will be motivated to increase their engagement in response to awareness of a more knowledgeable learning partner's knowledge. We tested our hypothesis in two experiments in which we staged a cooperative learning task, assessed participants' predisposition to social comparison, manipulated participants' awareness of learning partner knowledge, and observed the consequences for participants' engagement and learning outcomes. In both experiments, knowledge awareness helped learners match their explanation requests to a learning partner's superior knowledge. At the same time, less knowledgeable learners motivated to engage in social comparisons showed better learning engagement and learning outcomes as a result of knowledge awareness. Understanding and managing this interaction of knowledge awareness and social comparisons has the potential to improve peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-52
Number of pages12
JournalLearning and Instruction
Volume44
Early online date8 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

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knowledge
learning
cooperative learning
experiment
evaluation
interaction

Keywords

  • peer feedback
  • social comparison
  • knowledge awareness
  • learner engagement

Cite this

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title = "When being worse helps: The influence of upward social comparisons and knowledge awareness on learner engagement and learning in peer-to-peer knowledge exchange",
abstract = "Providing learners with awareness of a learning partner's knowledge supports knowledge exchange. However, such knowledge awareness enables social comparison. Because people strive for positive self-evaluation, we propose that less knowledgeable learners who rely on social comparisons for self-evaluation will be motivated to increase their engagement in response to awareness of a more knowledgeable learning partner's knowledge. We tested our hypothesis in two experiments in which we staged a cooperative learning task, assessed participants' predisposition to social comparison, manipulated participants' awareness of learning partner knowledge, and observed the consequences for participants' engagement and learning outcomes. In both experiments, knowledge awareness helped learners match their explanation requests to a learning partner's superior knowledge. At the same time, less knowledgeable learners motivated to engage in social comparisons showed better learning engagement and learning outcomes as a result of knowledge awareness. Understanding and managing this interaction of knowledge awareness and social comparisons has the potential to improve peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.",
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note = "Acknowledgment We thank Katharina Scheiter for her comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We thank the Baden-W{\"u}rttemberg Stiftung for the financial support of this research under the Eliteprogramme for Postdocs, Grant AZ Baden-W{\"u}rttemberg Stiftung 1.16101.08.",
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