Amplifying and Attenuating Inequity in Collaborative Learning: Toward an Analytical Framework

Niral Shah, Colleen M. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on collaborative learning has focused on its potential to foster successful problem solving. Less attention, though, has been given to issues of equity. In this article, we investigate how inequity can become amplified and attenuated within collaborative learning through small interactional moves that accumulate to produce broader patterns of equity or inequity. Our theoretical perspective utilizes Boaler’s notion of relational equity and introduces what we term participatory equity. Research was conducted in a computer science course co-taught by the authors and taken by upper-elementary students. Data sources include audio recordings of students’ collaborative interactions, ethnographic field notes, student work, and student surveys. This article focuses on a single student, Jason, and his dyadic interactions, and builds upon our previous analyses of his interactions with four higher-performing partners. Findings reveal how the interplay between classroom structures and student enactments shaped two types of inequity during collaborative learning. We conclude by discussing implications for theorizing and analyzing equity and inequity, as well as pedagogical considerations for structuring collaborative learning to attenuate inequity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-452
Number of pages30
JournalCognition and Instruction
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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