Towards a generalized competency model of collaborative problem solving

Chen Sun, Valerie J. Shute, Angela Stewart, Jade Yonehiro, Nicholas Duran, Sidney D'Mello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Collaborative problem solving (CPS) is an essential skill in the 21st century. There is a need for an appropriate framework and operationalization of CPS to guide its assessment and support and across multiple domains. Accordingly, we synthesized prior research on CPS to construct a generalized CPS competency model (i.e., skills and abilities) consisting of the following core facets: constructing shared knowledge, negotiation/coordination, and maintaining team function. Each facet has two sub-facets, which in turn, have multiple verbal and nonverbal indicators. We validated our model in two empirical studies involving triadic CPS, but in very different contexts – middle-school students playing an educational game in a 3-h, face-to-face session vs. college students engaging in a visual programming task for 20 min via videoconferencing. We used principal component analysis to investigate whether the empirical data aligned with our theorized model. Correlational analyses provided evidence on the orthogonality of the facets and their independence to individual differences in prior knowledge, intelligence and personality and regression analyses indicated that the facets predicted both subjective and objective outcome measures controlling for several covariates. Thus we provide initial evidence for the convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity of our model by using two different CPS contexts and student populations. This shows promise towards generalizing across various human-human CPS interactive environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103672
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Competency model
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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