Instructor influence on reasoned argument in discussion boards

  • Sue Gerber
  • Logan Scott
  • Douglas H. Clements
  • Julie Sarama
Research

Abstract

In this study, we explore the extent to which two instructional techniques promote critical discourse in an online class on educational standards and curriculum: instructor stance (challenging/nonchallenging) and topic level (higher order/lower order). Posts from 25 students, across four modules, were analyzed. These four modules constituted approximately one third of the course, and were selected because the professor was the sole facilitator for them. Results indicate that, regardless of topic level, a challenging stance by the professor had a positive effect on the percentage of student posts that referenced readings and theory. There was an interaction between level and stance on student use of reasoned argument. Lower order challenging forums were associated with a greater percentage of reasoned posts. This may be due to the abstractness of the professor's probes in higher order forums. Implications for future research include empirical investigations incorporating contextual variables and qualitative studies to ascertain how students engage with bulletin boards.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ahern, T.C., Peck, K., & Laycock, M. (1992). The effects of teacher discourse in computer-mediated communication.Journal of Educational Computing Research, 8, 291–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, I.E., & Seaman, J. (2003).Sizing the opportunity: The quality and extent of online education in the United States, 2002–2003. Needham, MA: The Sloan Consortium.Google Scholar
  3. Auster, C.J., & MacRone, M. (1994). The classroom as a negotiated social setting: An empirical study of the effects of faculty members' behavior on students' participation.Teaching Sociology, 22, 289–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bloom, B.S. (Ed.) (1956).Taxonomy of educational objectives. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  5. Bonk, C.J., & King, K.S. (Eds.). (1998).Electronic collaborators. Learner-centered technologies for literacy, apprenticeship, and discourse. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  6. Brookfield, S., & Preskill, S. (1999).Discussion as a way of teaching: Tools and techniques for demoncratic classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Browne, M.N., & Freeman, K. (2000). Distinguishing features of critical thinking classrooms.Teaching in Higher Education, 5, 301–309.Google Scholar
  8. Cho, K., & Jonassen, D. H. (2002). The effect of argumentation scaffolds on argumentation and problem solving.Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clasen, D.R., & Bonk, C. (1990).Teachers tackle thinking. Madison, Wisconsin Education Extension Programme.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, R.E. (1994). Media will never influence learning.Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DeBard, R., & Guidera, S. (2000). Adapting asynchronous communication to meet the seven principles of effective teaching.Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 28, 219–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ellner, C.L., & Barnes, C.P. (1983).Studies of college teaching: Experimental results, theoretical interpretations, and new perspectives. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company.Google Scholar
  13. Gallimore, R., & Tharp, R. (1990). Teaching mind in society: Teaching, schooling, and literate discourse. In L. Moll (Ed.),Vygotsky and education (pp. 175–205). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Ge, X., & Land, S. M. (2003). Scaffolding students' problem-solving processes in an ill-structured task using question prompts and peer interactions.Educational Technology Research and Development, 51 (1), 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gunawardena, C.N., Lowe, C.A., & Anderson, T. (1997). Analysis of a global online debate and the development of an interaction analysis model for examining social construction of knowdledge in computer conferencing.Journal of Educational Computing Research, 17, 397–431.Google Scholar
  16. Hara, N., Bonk, C.J., & Angeli, C., (2000). Content analyses of on-line discussion in an applied educational psychology course.Instructional Science, 28, 115–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hmelo, C.E., Guzdial, M., & Turns, J. (1998). Computer-support for collaborative learning: Learning to support student engagement.Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 9, 107–129.Google Scholar
  18. Hewitt, J. (2003). How habitual online practices affect the development of asynchronous discussion threads.Journal of Educational Computing Research, 28, 31–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jiang, M., & Meskill, C. (2000). Analyzing multiple dimensions of we-based courses: The development and piloting of a coding system.Journal of Educational Computing Research, 23, 451–469.Google Scholar
  20. Kanuka, H., & Anderson, T. (1998). Online social interchange, discord, and knowledge construction.Journal of Distance Education, 13(1), 57–74.Google Scholar
  21. Marttunen, M. (1998). Electronic mail as a forum for argumentative interaction in higher education studies.Journal of Computing Research, 18, 387–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McCoy, D. R., & Sorensen, C. K. (2003). Policy perspectives on selected virtual universities in the United States.Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 4, 89–107.Google Scholar
  23. Nunn, C. E. (1996). Discussion in the college classroom: Triangulating observational and survey results.The Journal of Higher Education, 67, 243–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pincas, A. (1998). Successful online course design: Virtual frameworks for discourse construction.Educational Technology & Society, 1, 14–25.Google Scholar
  25. Pithers, R. T., & Soden, R. (2000). Critical thinking in education: A review.Educational Research, 42, 237–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Redfield, D. L. & Rousseau, E. W. (1981). A meta-analysis of experimental research on teacher questioning behavior.Review of Educational Research, 51(2), 237–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Scheurman, G. (1996). Professors' assumptions about students' critical thinking dispositions and epistemological beliefs.Journal of Excellence in College Teaching, 7(3), 43–69.Google Scholar
  28. Scheurman, G., & Newmann, F. M. (1998). Authentic intellectual work in social studies: Putting performance before pedagogy.Social Education, 62(1), 23–25.Google Scholar
  29. Schwier, R. A., & Balbar, S. (2002). The interplay of content and community in synchronous and asynchronous communication: Virtual communication in a graduate seminar.Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 28(2), 21–30.Google Scholar
  30. Thomas, M. J. W. (2002). Learning within incoherent structures: The space of online discussion forums.Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18, 351–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Voss, J. F., & Means, M. L. (1991). Learning to reason via instruction in argumentation.Learning and Instruction, 1(4), 337–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vygotsky, L. (1986).Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  33. Watts, M. M. (2003). Taking the distance out of education.New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 94, 97–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sue Gerber
    • 1
  • Logan Scott
  • Douglas H. Clements
    • 1
  • Julie Sarama
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

Personalised recommendations