Exploring Online Discussions

Blogging yet another AERA session.

Chair: Steven R. Terrell, Nova Southeastern University

There are five papers in this session:

  • Building a Taxonomy of “Listening” Behaviors in Online Discussions: Case Studies of High- and Low-Activity Students Alyssa F. Wise, Simon Fraser University; Ying-Ting Hsiao, Simon Fraser University; Farshid Marbouti, Simon Fraser University; Jennifer Speer, Simon Fraser University; Nishan Perera, Simon Fraser University
  • Instructor and Student Participation in Online Discussion Boards as Predictors of Student Outcomes Marlowe Mager, Haywood Community College; Steven Talmadge Heulett, Haywood Community College
  • Online Learner Self-Regulation: Learning Presence Viewed Through Quantitative Content and Social Network Analysis Peter Shea, University at Albany – SUNY; Suzanne Hayes, Empire State College – SUNY; Sedef Uzuner Smith, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Jason Vickers, University at Albany – SUNY; Mary Gozza-Cohen, Marist College; Shou-Bang Jian, University at Albany – SUNY; Alexandra M Pickett, SUNY Learning Network; Jane Wilde, University at Albany – SUNY; Chi-Hua Tseng, Empire State College – SUNY
  • More Than Words: How the Structure of Online Discussions Impacts the Development of Learning Communities Lane W. Clarke, University of New England; Lenore Kinne, Northern Kentucky University
  • The Impact of Modeling and Staggered Participation in Video-Annotated Preservice Teacher Discussions Craig D. Howard, Indiana University – Bloomington

Building a Taxonomy of “Listening” Behaviors in Online Discussions: Case Studies of High- and Low-Activity Students

  • Focus on “attending to the ideas of others” – it’s critical to learning through discussion
  • Discussion is both listening and speaking – if we focus only on the speaking/writing that is seen in the discussion, we’re missing the listening part
  • Students can make choices on what messages to “listening”
  • This isn’t about lurking… it’s about “listening”, a behavior
  • Reading is very generic, and listening is different. Reading is static and written by one author usually. It’s written in segments – it’s different than reading. This is such an interesting and useful differentiation!
  • Dysfunctional discussion is like everyone shouting in a room
  • This is from the e-listening research project.
  • Taxonomy of participation proposed by Knowlton 2005; they’ve added to this concept some proposed listening behaviors happening in the participation type and description
  • The course had 20% of the grade on discussion –and they consider that to be a high level for an undergraduate course
  • They used data from what students are doing online: how long they read a post (scanning vs reading), how long they are logged in for a session; what they are doing online; they looked for differences in students and differences in their patterns of behavior
  • Question: I wonder what kind of studies are done on student behavior in face to face classes of how much time they spend on homework, reading etc. Is anyone curious about that too? Or are we mostly interested because we are trying to figure out how to do online learning well?
  • Listening types: Disregardful with minimal attention to other’s ideas; Preparatory – listening to prepare to contribute; Social – focusing on peer posts; Targeted focusing on instructor’s posts; Interactive – building on ideas; Reflective – where it’s dialogical and changing ideas; potentially thinking about adding Coverage – focusing on the content knowledge.
  • Big takeaway – more isn’t necessarily better in the discussion – more reading or more posting.
  • Thinking: Hmm. What does this mean? Does it mean instructors should change requirements? Certainly it’s good to think about what students are doing when they aren’t posting. How does this data help us think about what students are doing? As I start to think about how to train faculty to teach online… I can see that I have much to do and learn to explore my own thinking on online discussions and what others are thinking about it.

Instructor and Student Participation in Online Discussion Boards as Predictors of Student Outcomes

  • Discussion boards are ubiquitous in online learning –but instructors aren’t clear on what they want students to be gaining from the discussion. Hmm. What are the student outcomes I’m looking for in my technology integration classes? Need to think about that more. What do I expect faculty to expect to see in their online learning? Giving the federal requirements for “interaction” in online learning, what do we mean by that and what are we looking for?
  • In a previous study: Social posts by instructors were most likely to affect the students’ grade.; Low achieving students made more agree/disagree posts. ; Teachers varied in weighting of discussion from 10-25%.
  • This study looked at the behaviors of instructors and students in the discussion board and the students’ achievement in the course.
  • Collins & Burdge’s 1995 typology of instructor posts: Pedagogical, Social, Managerial and Technical.
  • Codes for students: social development from Cox & Cox 2008; and Critical thinking Slide went by too fast for me to catch this.
  • High achieving students did more posts with synthesis. This seems to fit well with the previous paper – and raises the question – how do we teach/nudge/encourage low achieving students to do more synthesis? What can help them know how to do that? I think it’s more than just nudging them…. Do they need it modeled / taught / scaffolded?

Online Learner Self-Regulation: Learning Presence Viewed Through Quantitative Content and Social Network Analysis

  • Community of Inquiry Model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000) – teaching presence, social presence, cognitive presence
  • They want to add to this concept the idea of learning presence
  • When students self-regulate – self monitoring, self evaluation and self assessment – they do better. (John Hattie Visible Learning)
  • Learning presence is planning, strategizing and reflecting
  • In the study – the doctoral students were taking on the role of facilitation in the discussion
  • Social network analysis examines ties between participants or nodes and looks at who talk to who and how often
  • They looked at different ways to measure what effect having the student as a facilitator what that did to the learning
  • If self-regulation is so critical, how do we teach students to self-regulate??

More Than Words: How the Structure of Online Discussions Impacts the Development of Learning Communities

  • They compared online discussion boards vs. blogs.  Does the format have an impact on learning community?
  • How do you model in an online course the strategies P12 teachers should use in their teaching? Is it possible to model instructional strategies online for teachers to use in face to face teaching? Is this why some places don’t allow methods classes to be taught online? Still thinking here.
  • They wondered why everyone uses threaded discussions and what would happen if you did this some other way – such as with blogs.
  • Blogs had longer initial posts; and more responses, and longer word count for the responses.
  • Discussion had more back and forth dialogue; more on topic responses; more academic responses vs. personal responses.
  • Discussions had “school based talk” whereas the blogs were more like “podium talk”. Interesting to connect this back to the first paper where they were trying to tease out the listening behaviors. Blogs seem to fall even farther on the continuum for less listening and making connections with what other people said.
  • Students were much more satisfied with the learning and engagement with the blogs. The students really like the social conversations that happened on the blogs.
  • Discussion boards do a really good job at knowledge building community; whereas the blogs facilitated a community of practice. The blogs had more photos and videos also. The blogs facilitated a different type of discursive practice.
  • This study is really interesting. Does it mean then, that students want to KNOW each other – and the “extras” “non academic” conversation helped them feel connected to each other. In online discussions, how do they get to know each other?
  • In the Q&A afterwards, a statistician who teaches online pointed out that the blogs had more academic posts overall. Do people post more academic when they feel more connected to each other??

The Impact of Modeling and Staggered Participation in Video-Annotated Preservice Teacher Discussions

  • Imagetexts are artifacts where image and text come together to create new meanings neither of the two would have convened on their own (Kress 2001 and Preston 2010)
  • Collaborative Video Annotation. Students viewed the same teacher video, and then they posted comments on the video instruction – and their comments are right on top of the video.
  • I think they are doing this on YouTube with the annotation options.
  • Scaffolds: learners had to add one annotation. Then they had to go back and experience the annotations and add three more.
  • Another scaffold was that the instructor added “models: with experts discussion contributions that were placed in the video before the students came in to add their own annotations. (this modeled to the students how to do critical thinking posts)
  • Intellectual modesty – realizing that there is nothing else to add to the discussion
  • He had an assessment tool that pulled the annotations down into Excel (with a php script)
  • In comparing to control group of asynchronous discussion, the students created less posts with more words.
  • Thinking: While the video is cool – one of my take-away from this session is the idea of modeling where the instructor planted sample posts that were the type of responses he was looking for. This would be harder to do in an asynchronous discussion board – the YouTube video allowed for these posts to be added ahead of time. This partially answers my question of how to teach students how to do these kinds of discussion posts.
  • To sustain higher order thinking, students need help and scaffolding – and this annotated video discussion is a way to scaffold the task for students.
  • The full paper is online here.

One reply

  1. […] References I shared with Barb to connect to her work: the Listening Taxonomy and More Than Words papers from AERA that I blogged here. […]

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