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  1. Gardner, Grant Ean (Ed.)
    Past research on group work has primarily focused on promoting change through implementation of interventions designed to increase performance. Recently, however, education researchers have called for more descriptive analyses of group interactions. Through detailed qualitative analysis of recorded discussions, we studied the natural interactions of students during group work in the context of a biology laboratory course. We analyzed multiple interactions of 30 different groups as well as data from each of the 91 individual participants to characterize the ways students engage in discussion and how group dynamics promote or prevent meaningful discussion. Using a set of codes describing 15 unique behaviors, we determined that the most common behavior seen in student dialogue was analyzing data, followed by recalling information and repeating ideas. We also classified students into one of 10 different roles for each discussion, determined by their most common behaviors. We found that, although students cooperated with one another by exchanging information, they less frequently fully collaborated to explain their conclusions through the exchange of reasoning. Within this context, these findings show that students working in groups generally choose specific roles during discussions and focus on data analysis rather than constructing logical reasoning chains to explain their conclusions.