ERIC Number: EJ774622
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Mar
Reference Count: 11
Online Asynchronous Threaded Discussions: Good Enough to Advance Students through the Proximal Zone of Activity Theory?
Maurino, Paula San Millan
TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, v51 n2 p46-49 Mar 2007
This paper presents a study which involved researching student interaction and participation under the lens of Activity Theory and Social Computing. Activity Theory is a philosophical framework that integrates the objective, the sociocultural, and the ecological, while Social Computing describes any type of computing application in which software serves as an intermediary or a focus for a social relationship. The research questions were: (1) How does online student-to-student interaction compare to in-class student-to-student interaction?; (2) Are students satisfied with online classroom discussions?; and (3) Are online classroom discussions sufficient to promote the social/cultural learning emphasized in Activity Theory and the Social Computing paradigm? The study was conducted at the State University of New York at Farmingdale. Research methods included faculty interviews, classroom observations, analysis of student course evaluation forms, and examination of online threaded discussions. Discussion questions were evaluated using two models: Engestrom's Model A and Model B, and Ngeow and Kong's four-tier taxonomy of guided discussion, inquiry, reflection, or exploration. Responses were evaluated using Bigg's SOLO taxonomy. The study showed that online classes generated more interaction and class discussion than traditional classrooms and upper level classes produced more discussion and interaction than lower level classes. This increased interaction was attributed to a number of factors including mandatory participation requirements by teachers, efforts to transcend transactional distance confusion, compensation for shyness or oral speaking problems, additional preparation time, and the social culture developed in the online environment.
Descriptors: Discussion (Teaching Technique), Comparative Analysis, Course Evaluation, Computer Mediated Communication, Intermode Differences, Communication Research, Instructional Effectiveness, Social Networks, Interviews, Classroom Observation Techniques, Group Discussion, Conventional Instruction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York