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ERIC Number: ED536920
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 364
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2670-8121-6
Collaborative Rhetorical Structure: A Discourse Analysis Method for Analyzing Student Collaborative Inquiry via Computer Conferencing
Kou, Xiaojing
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University
Various formats of online discussion have proven valuable for enhancing learning and collaboration in distance and blended learning contexts. However, despite their capacity to reveal essential processes in collaborative inquiry, current mainstream analytical frameworks, such as the cognitive presence framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001) and the Interaction Analysis Model (Gunawardena, Lowe, & Anderson, 1997), have some methodological limitations. For example, they force individual discourse moves into preexisting fixed stages of the inquiry process. This requires a large inferential jump from interpretation of an individual discourse move to identification of a general social cognitive process. Such frameworks are also limited in their ability to recognize the relationships among discourse moves, thereby missing important information regarding interactivity and collaboration. This study develops a discourse method that highlights the relationships among discourse moves, with the goal of remedying the deficiency of current mainstream analytical methods. This method does not require making large inferential jumps in coding individual moves, since it only focuses on the relationship between two related segments in a discussion. A partial formative research method was used to develop the proposed method. The method developed combines two existing discourse analysis methods and includes three steps: (1) analysis of individual messages using rhetorical structure theory (Mann & Thompson, 1988) to reveal rhetorical and logical relationships between propositions within a message, (2) dynamic topic analysis (Herring & Nix, 1997) to identify the main threads in the online discussion, and (3) analysis of rhetorical structure of the identified threads. Rhetorical structure theory is adapted to meet the needs of analyzing multi-participant online discussion. The developed method was applied to two online discussions that took place in a graduate level course in a Midwestern university in the United States. This application demonstrated the ability of the developed method to assess the quality of collaborative inquiry in different discussions. The same discussion data were analyzed by Paulus (2003) using the Gunawardena et al. (1997) framework. Comparison of Paulus' analysis and that of the present study shows that their results support each other in terms of quality and level of collaboration of the inquiry. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A