CoSolve: A Novel System for Engaging Users in Collaborative Problem-Solving
Fan, Sandra Benxin
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In an increasingly connected world, there are ever more opportunities for online collaboration. As the potential for more collaborators grows, so does the complexity of such communications. Problem solving, already a difficult task when performed by just one person, can grow more and more complicated. However, there is great potential for generation of more ideas and parallelization of work. How can we harness this potential while minimizing user frustration inherent in a large-scale project? I present CoSolve, an online collaborative problem-solving environment that helps users engage in problem-posing and problem-solving. CoSolve uses the state-space model of problem-solving to present a tree-based visualization of a solution space to users. Users can then collaborate to generate, explore and annotate the state-space tree as they engage in the problem-solving process. CoSolve also allows users to formulate their own problems through a unique, scaffolded problem-posing interface. I evaluated CoSolve by conducting user studies to analyze how users engage in online collaborative problem-solving. I also examined case studies of users posing their own problems on CoSolve to study patterns of problem-posing behavior. To test how a system such as Cosolve can encourage users' collaborative behavior, I built a collaborative user roles system and evaluated its performance in a user study. Finally, I conclude this dissertation with observations and recommendations for the design of tree-based, collaborative problem-solving systems.