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Language and interaction in online asynchronous communication in university level English courses
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Interaction involves people communicating and reacting to each other. This process is key to the study of discourse, but it is not easy to study systematically how interaction takes place in a specific communicative event, or how it is typically performed over a series of repeated communicative events. However, with a written record of the interaction, it becomes possible to study the process in some detail. This thesis investigates interaction through asynchronous written discussion forums in a computer-mediated learning environment.

In particular, this study investigates pragmatic aspects of the communicative event which the asynchronous online discussions comprise. The first case study examines response patterns to messages by looking at the content of initial messages and responses, in order to determine the extent to which characteristics of the messages themselves or other situational factors affect the interaction. The second study examines in what ways participants use a range of discourse devices, including formulaic politeness, humour and supportive feedback as community building strategies in the interaction. The third study investigates the role of the subject line of messages in the interaction, for example by examining how participants choose different types of subject lines for different types of messages. The fourth study examines to what extent features serving a deictic function are drawn on in the interaction and then compares the findings to both oral conversation and formal academic discourse.

The overall findings show a complex communicative situation shaped by the medium itself, type of activity, the academic discipline and topic of discussion and by the social and cultural aspects of tertiary education in an online learning environment. In addition, the findings may also provide evidence of learning.

 

Abstract [en]

The four case studies presented in Language and interaction in online asynchronous communication in university level English courses investigate written discussion forum interaction in a computer-mediated learning environment. These studies deal with different, yet related, aspects of discussion forum communication. Aspects included are the labeling and response patterns of messages, community-building strategies among participants and features of informal conversation and formal academic writing in the messages. Building on discourse analysis combined with content analysis and corpus method, the work systematically examines the linguistic patterns of communication in the discussion forums. The findings show that there are multiple factors at work simultaneously that affect the linguistic choices by the discourse participants. The constraints and opportunities of the communication are not only connected to the fact that it is computer-mediated, but also to the fact that it is written and in a particular academic environment. Knowledge of the choices available and of what factors potentially affect them is useful for anybody involved in research on net-based teaching and learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2015. , 77 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2015:5
Keyword [en]
Discussion forums, asynchronous CMC, net-based learning, interaction, discourse
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34757ISBN: 978-91-7063-616-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-34757DiVA: diva2:770229
Public defence
2015-02-06, Fryxellsalen, 1B 306, Universitetsgatan 2, 651 88 Karlstad, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-01-20 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2015-12-28Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Getting a Response to Discussion Thread Messages in an Online Learning Environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Getting a Response to Discussion Thread Messages in an Online Learning Environment
2011 (English)In: International Conference on Information Communication Technologies in Education, Rhodes, Greece, 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

One of the challenges of using discussion forums in a computer-mediated learning environment is getting students to contribute. Some discussion threads develop while others do not. The present study concerns factors affecting response rate. This presentation deals with response patterns and the strategies that teachers and students may consider using in order to increase the chance of getting a response to a message posted in an asynchronous discussion forum.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Rhodes, Greece: , 2011
Series
Education and Technology: Innovation and Research. Proceedings of ICICTE 2011
Keyword
Online learning, discussion threads
National Category
Specific Languages Educational Sciences
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34758 (URN)
Conference
International Conference on Information Communication Technologies in Education , Rhodes, Greece, 7-9 juli 2011, 2011
Available from: 2014-12-10 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved
2. Community building from a distance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Community building from a distance
2011 (English)In: EDULEARN11 Proceedings, Barcelona, 2011, 2295-2304 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This presentation is concerned with communication in an online learning environment and attempts to shed light on community building strategies used by students in the asynchronous online discussion forums. The material for this study was collected from text-based asynchronous discussion forums which constituted part of the compulsory course work for a course in English proficiency at second semester university level in Sweden. The students were divided into three separate groups and all three had the same course material and were taught by the same instructor. The instructor had no discussion forum input besides the initial instructions for how the students were expected to use it. The students’ task was to ask questions and answer others’ questions. Instructor feedback was given at a later date in a seminar. All three groups had other course activities, such as real time seminars, besides the discussion forums. Two of the groups studied online exclusively while the third group studied had their real time seminars in the same physical environment on campus. In order to determine how and to what extent students used community building devices in their communication, Lapadat’s (2007) model of discourse devices used for community building was adapted. The study revealed that disclosure, asking for and offering help, inviting comment and alignment were used by all three groups. There were however discourse devices used for building community the two online groups used but that were not used by the campus group, that is, the group that met in the same physical environment for seminars. Those that studied on campus rarely used greetings, social remarks and nor did they employ closings adapted from the genre of letter writing and email. All three of these were commonly used by participants in the exclusively online groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Barcelona: , 2011
Series
Edulearn 11 proceedings, ISSN 2340-1117
Keyword
Community building, distance education
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34759 (URN)000326292902046 ()978-84-615-0441-1 (ISBN)
Conference
3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Barcelona 2011
Available from: 2014-12-10 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved
3. Subject line preferences and other factors contributing to coherence and interaction in student discussion forums
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Subject line preferences and other factors contributing to coherence and interaction in student discussion forums
2013 (English)In: Computers and education, ISSN 0360-1315, E-ISSN 1873-782X, Vol. 60, no 1, 172-183 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A number of factors may affect student interaction in an asynchronous online discussion forum used in learning. This study deals with student preferences for the subject line of messages and in what ways the choice of subject line contributes to coherence and interaction reflected in the textual and interpersonal functions of the linguistic items used. The study also attempts to determine what affects the choices made by participants. Nine separate discussion forums from three different undergraduate courses in English at a Swedish university were used in the study. A total of 98 students and 435 student messages were examined and a number of trends appeared. The functions of the subject line may be summarized as contributing to coherence by reflecting message content in a number of different ways. In addition, the subject line can perform other tasks such as maintaining social relationships among the participants. It is not clear in what ways the subject line contributes to interaction with regard to increasing the reading rate. The trends observed indicate that other factors than subject line content may contribute to whether students are inclined to access a message or not, such as when a message is posted and where it is displayed on the screen. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Pergamon Press, 2013
Keyword
Computer-mediated communication; Cooperative/collaborative learning; Post-secondary education; Teaching/learning strategies; Improving classroom teaching
National Category
Educational Sciences Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34760 (URN)10.1016/j.compedu.2012.07.005 (DOI)000312231900016 ()
Available from: 2013-01-28 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2017-08-15Bibliographically approved
4. Features of orality, academic writing and interaction in asynchronic student discussion forums
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Features of orality, academic writing and interaction in asynchronic student discussion forums
2014 (English)In: Nordic Journal of English Studies, ISSN 1654-6970, E-ISSN 1654-6970, Vol. 13, no 3, 54-82 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

This study employs quantitative and qualitative methods to compare the frequency and usage of selected linguistic features with a deictic function in discussion forum messages taken from three undergraduate courses in English. The main aim of the study was to examine how the written asynchronous interaction in the discussion forums relates to spoken registers (conversation and an oral academic seminar) and written academic prose; a secondary aim was to investigate student interaction. The results of the study show that the frequencies of the majority of features examined were positioned between the spoken registers and academic prose and that these features were sometimes used in structures typical of conversation and other times used in structures typical of academic prose.

National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34761 (URN)
Available from: 2014-12-09 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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