Studies on transactive memory (for a review see: Ren & Argote, 2011) suggested that under some circumstances groups develop transactive memory systems in the group, and communication between them. The constitution of transactive memory systems relies on the fact that some groups have the ability to develop implicit distribution of cognitive labor, and thus, each member assumes responsibility for learning information within his or her own domain of expertise. Each group member also expects others to learn information about other relevant domains and assume accountability for that. Based on this distribution of cognitive labor, only by adding together the individual memories of group members, the group is able to solve specific tasks.
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In collaborative learning activities, several investigations (Jackson & Moreland, 2009; Michinov & Michinov, 2009) have indicated that groups who can develop well tuned transactive memory systems among their members are able to perform better in collaborative problem-solving tasks in educational and work settings than groups that do not. Nonetheless, other studies in collaborative learning (e.g. Ellis et al., 2003) have provided compelling evidence which claims that certain situational variables (e.g. agreeableness) in team learning negatively affect collaborative learning.
Ellis, A. P. J., Hollenbeck, J. R., Ilgen, D. R., Porter, C. O. L. H., & Moon, H. (2003). Team learning: Collectively connecting the dots. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 821-835.
Jackson, M., & Moreland, R. L. (2009). Transactive memory in the classrooom. Small Group Research, 40 (5), 508-534.
Michinov, N. & Michinov, E. (2009). Investigating the relationship between transactive memory and performance in collaborative learning. Learning and Instruction, 19 (1), 43-54.
Ren, Y. & Argote, A. (2011). Transactive memory systems 1985-2010: An integrative framework of key dimensions, antecedents and consequences. The Academy of Management Annals, 5 (1), 189-229.