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Cross-continental collaboration: A case study using activity systems analysis

, Northern Illinois University, United States

Northern Illinois University . Awarded


Research has shown that simply linking learners from different countries using technology does not automatically bring about learning benefits; instead it frequently ends in tensions that, if not addressed, could potentially hinder learning. Using the lens of Vygotsky-inspired sociocultural theory, activity theory, and Engeström's activity systems analysis, this qualitative study explored students' experience with a focus on tensions in the context of a sixteen week cross-continental collaboration between seven students in an Intermediate Chinese I course at an American university and seven students majoring in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from a university in China. During the sixteen weeks, students formed one-on-one partnerships and communicated both synchronously and asynchronously with the purpose of enhancing target language skills and cultural understanding.

Methods of inquiry for this study included content analysis of interviews, journals and audio-visual material. Four activity systems were used to visually present interrelated components contributing to the participants' experience. By comparing low functionality pairs with high functionality pairs using activity systems analysis, the study identified and elaborated on the tensions, underlying reasons, and pedagogical implications of the students' cross-continental collaborative learning efforts. Furthermore, the study developed a cross-continental collaboration activity system to provide insight for practitioners, researchers and administrators with an interest in similar collaborative activities.


Ryder, L. Cross-continental collaboration: A case study using activity systems analysis. Ph.D. thesis, Northern Illinois University. Retrieved March 20, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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