National Science Foundation Research Videos

Collaboration as an Ensemble

Mexican-heritage children’s ways of collaboration are strengths for learning, and can also serve as a model for thinking together, for children from other backgrounds. This video shows how pairs of Mexican-heritage US children collaborated twice as much in planning and in computer programming together, compared with European American middle-class children.  The Mexican-heritage pairs often collaborated in fluid synchrony, without even having to discuss proposals for what to do next. Skillful collaboration is an important resource for learning, as people think together.

Learning by Helping

Helping others may be a powerful motivator to learn.  This may be especially true for children from underrepresented backgrounds.  Here we show videos from a study of children with opportunities to help a science instructor. Mexican-heritage California children from families with limited Western schooling showed impressive helpfulness — more than children from highly schooled families.  They spontaneously helped a science instructor, and their mothers reported that they usually pitch in to help voluntarily at home.   Classroom practices often discourage children from helping the teacher. But if teachers encourage children's helping, this could help to broaden children's participation in school.

Learning to Collaborate and Collaborating to Learn

Children from underserved backgrounds bring many resources to their learning.  Children from many Indigenous- and Mexican-heritage backgrounds use a sophisticated form of collaboration that is visible even at a micro-scale of fractions of seconds, revealing the foundations of thinking together. Not only is collaboration important for their own learning; their sophisticated collaboration provides a model of learning together for other children, as well as for teachers, program designers, governments, and the public -- all of us.

Learning by Observing

Children from Mexican-heritage and Guatemalan backgrounds often bring important resources to learning, from their skills in observation. This video showcases research showing that children from these backgrounds tended to use keen attention twice as much as middle-class European American children. The children observed keenly while waiting nearby as an instructor showed their sibling how to build an object. The children also learned more; they could build the object their sibling had been taught to make, with less help from an adult. Their skilled attention is not only a resource for their own learning; it is also a model for other people to learn to observe the events around them more fully.