Collaborative Floundering trumps Scaffolding
Really interesting finding! I suspect, though, that the collaboration had a lot to do with the floundering being successful. It seems to me that floundering is going to require greater cognitive effort, and thus, greater motivation/engagement to persevere. I also wonder about the complexity of the task. I have seen pairs of students flounder at a Java program and (seemingly) not learn much from the effort.
With one group of students, the teacher provided strong “scaffolding” — instructional support — and feedback. With the teacher’s help, these pupils were able to find the answers to their set of problems. Meanwhile, a second group was directed to solve the same problems by collaborating with one another, absent any prompts from their instructor. These students weren’t able to complete the problems correctly. But in the course of trying to do so, they generated a lot of ideas about the nature of the problems and about what potential solutions would look like. And when the two groups were tested on what they’d learned, the second group “significantly outperformed” the first.