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Collaboration and Cognition Inside a Productive Agency

There is a pedagogical-educational component in the collaborative process focused on learning. It is relevant to understand that within a CRN a kind of peer modeling can occur. Criticism of peers to individual views, reciprocal feedback processes, and the articulation of knowledge and learning result from the collaboration. Reporting to a classroom context, Laurillard (2012, p. 190) teaches us that groups can take the subject to perform a certain kind of cognitive development by practicing together. To practice among peers, members of a community would be more likely to spend their time in generating new ideas and explanations for the phenomena that are the object of study than studying alone.

The network is a web of knowledge, a training context. It is important that the collaborators realize all is taken for granted in their own practices. It is desirable that the interaction inside a CRN, a research group, should be seen by all members with a sense of belonging as the workforce of all subjects who have the same intentions to generate knowledge. Thus, the development of cognition in the group will be available to all, however different their experience level may be, taken by the most experienced researchers working side by side with the newer researchers”

The group is valuable to each of its members because it makes demands on them to produce a contribution to the group goal. In the process of doing so the learner has to construct an idea, explanation or description. This idea is then available to the others to challenge or modify, and for the originator to defend or redevelop. Each member of the group reciprocates the demands and contributions of others. (Laurillard, 2012, p. 187)

Seeking similarities between research and teaching, we have cognitive shared processes and shared research results. Collaboration extends itself by the contribution to the making of a report, inserting into a part of an article writing, a partial coauthorship, by making of a laboratory technique or applying treatment to a guinea pig; by a new work methodology since running a software or the graphic image to be put in a paper, till the critical commentary on the colleague’s work. Colleagues collaborate but also individuals in different hierarchical positions can contribute (horizontal and vertical collaboration). Sharing the network in order to achieve certain research goals can direct learning in a collaborative way. A sequence ofprocedures, Laurillard says concerns to education, whose main activities are: “listening, explaining, questioning, summarizing speculating, and hypothesizing” (Laurillard, 2012, p. 189). The same can be relocated to the activities in a CRN contributing to new learning. In general, one learns collaboratively if he/she observes others on the way they work, talk, discuss themes, and research procedures. The research collaboration networks would result in the creation of a real productive agency, that is, structured and intentional groups in which each collaborator is inscribed by choice with the intention (and the interest in the scientific and symbolic capital) to produce and to learn. Laurillard (2012) believes that collaboration is pedagogically valuable in higher education because it develops ideas and produces learning. The reiteration of procedures and negotiation also contributes to increasing the cognition of subjects. By definition, in collaborative learning the focus is on the social and cultural description of how the group makes a final shared result.

The production of knowledge with the mark of collaboration, however, is dependent on another fundamental variable, such as the trust. Far more subjective than the variables presented earlier in this chapter, trust is one attitudinal variable and ethics, no less important than the symbolic, social, psychological, pedagogical, and educational capital that marks the collaboration in RNs.

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