Collaborative Social Reasoning

What is Collaborative Social Reasoning?

Collaborative Social Reasoning (CSR; Lin et al., 2019; 2022) is a form of collaborative small-group discussion designed to foster students’ social reasoning and argumentation, interpersonal competencies, and relationships with others. 

Building on sociocultural theory (see Glassman et al., 2023), researchers work alongside teachers to create a respectful classroom environment where students can freely talk about issues that are closely related to their personal and community lives. The social experiences in CSR discussions allow students to practice perspective taking, argumentation skills, and knowledge building. Students also have fruitful opportunities to practice social and communication skills as they learn to maintain respectful and supportive interactions and friendships with classmates during intellectual collaboration.  

What have we found about CSR?

Our findings have shown that students who participated in as few as five CSR discussions are better at considering multiple justified perspectives on issues (Wen et al., 2023), using academic and social-emotional vocabulary to reason (Hsieh et al., 2021), and building coherent and integrated arguments (Lin et al., 2019), compared to business-as-usual students. Interpersonally, students in the CSR group became more socially accepted by peers and were less aggressive to others (Lin et al., 2022). The impact of CSR discussions is attributed to the interweaving of social-emotional dialogue (toward social cohesion) and cognitive dialogue (toward sense making and cognitive engagement) (Chen et al., 2023), and knowledge justification based on multiple perspectives (Kim et al., 2023). 

The CSR approach aligns with Common Core State Standards and can be incorporated into schools’ English Language Arts or Social Studies curricula to simultaneously promote social and academic gains for students.