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Moving Apart and Coming Together: Discourse, Engagement, and Deep Learning


"An important part of "doing" science is engaging in collaborative science practices. To better understand how to support these practices, we need to consider how students collaboratively construct and represent shared understanding in complex, problem-oriented, and authentic learning environments. This research presents a case study centered on the work of four students in a human-centered robotics curriculum enactment. We explore how discursive features including embodied gesture and positioning of material artifacts contributed to the problem-solving process and helped students move towards deeper learning -- showing how nonverbal and verbal discourses were used to construct agreement and disagreement, parallel interaction, and accountability. Each of these discursive actions informed how the group moved forward or was halted in their complex collaborative work. We found that early stages of constructing a joint problemsolving space (JPSS) in this classroom environment required extended engagement, student ownership, and negotiation of shared activity. By exploring how select students worked toward the co-construction of joint problem-solving spaces, we reimagine what deep engagement and learning in STEM learning environments can look like, and we inform better design for the creation of these spaces."