UNC TLT 2007


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UNC TLT 2007

  1. 1. Hitting Reply: A Qualitative Study to Understand Student Decisions to Respond to Online Discussion Postings Diane D. Chapman Julia Storberg-Walker Sophia J. Stone
  2. 2. Online Community• A strong learning community helps students feel connected, offers a sense of belonging with shared goals, and helps students experience a higher quality learning experience
  3. 3. Discussion Builds Community• Social presence—high immediacy behaviors facilitated by communication: – Interpersonality-relationship building – Impersonality-task oriented• Collaboration—requires strong sense of social presence
  4. 4. Background• Research focuses more on learning strategies to facilitate online discussion• Understanding what prompts students to reply to, or engage with other students in online discussion can help us move beyond interaction to collaborative learning environments
  5. 5. Purpose and Research Question• The purpose of this study was to understand the decision-making processes of students responding to discussion posts• What is/are the decision making process(es) students use to reply to an asynchronous discussion posting?
  6. 6. Survey Questions1. Describe a situation when you felt compelled to respond to a posting and why?2. Describe a situation when you did not feel compelled to respond to a posting and why?
  7. 7. Methodology• Research participants: 21 students from two online master’s degree courses were contacted for voluntary participation• Data collected from two courses over two successive years• Geographic area: Egypt to Delaware• Structured questions via survey instrument
  8. 8. Limitations• Study focused only on rational decision making experience• Interpreter neutrality• Geographic dispersion of participants• Survey instrument format
  9. 9. Findings: Compelling Students to ReplyFour themes emerged from the data:- Group process criteria- Leadership criteria- Social criteria- Judgment criteria
  10. 10. Group Process CriteriaStudents responded to posts that: -Facilitated group process work by providing information, opinions, or requests for data -Dealt with specific task at hand
  11. 11. Leadership CriteriaStudents responded to posts that: -Allowed student to provide direction -Set boundaries/guidelines for the group -Called on one’s role: (facilitator, motivator)
  12. 12. Social CriteriaStudents responded to posts that: -Promoted group inclusion -Requested feedback -Required interpersonality (responding to affective or emotional needs)
  13. 13. Judgment CriteriaStudents responded to posts that: -Called for correction or constructive criticism -Required the need to defend one’s own work to preserve creative integrity
  14. 14. Findings: Compelling Students to Not ReplyFour themes emerged from the data:• Applicability criteria• Judgment criteria• Leadership criteria• Social criteria
  15. 15. Applicability CriteriaStudents did not respond to posts that: - Were directed to others or were not applicable to their own work -Contained on-going conversations between others (process applicability)
  16. 16. Judgment CriteriaStudents did not respond to posts that: -Could not add beneficial/substantive information -Asked for duplicate information -Were “chatter” or “nuisance” or “semi-useless” postings -Lacked merit or value as these were judged in pejorative ways
  17. 17. Leadership CriteriaStudents did not respond to posts that: – Were already on track and group process was running smoothly – Did not require a “catalyst” to move the posts forward – Required input from the designated group leader
  18. 18. Social/Personal Feelings CriteriaStudents did not respond to posts that: -Were only social or personal in nature -Devalued one’s contributions -Generated negative feelings of exclusion
  19. 19. In Summary• Social presence is closely linked to decision processes to reply or not to reply• Students may decide to post or not to post from either social dimension-- (impersonal/interpersonal)• Decisions to reply based on emotional/subjective criteria• Collaborative interactions affected by both dimensions
  20. 20. In Summary• Supporting and facilitating peer to peer interaction in the online environment does not guarantee collaboration• Instructional tools provided in the online environment do not guarantee students will respond to each other’s postings• Online collaborative projects do not guarantee that groups will grow in cohesiveness• This carries implications for developing collaborative online structures