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Initial Structuring of Online Discussions to Improve Learning and Argumentation: Incorporating Students’ Own Explanations as Seed Comments Versus an Augmented-Preset Approach to Seeding Discussions

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Abstract

Collaboration scripts can facilitate argumentation in online settings by grouping students with other students who have expressed differing perspectives on a discussion topic. This general scripting approach is referred to as a “conflict schema.” Prior studies suggest that a specific conflict schema script known as personally-seeded discussion is more productive for students than a standard discussion format in terms of the structural quality of the resulting argumentation and participation within the discussions. The purpose of the current study involves comparing the personally-seeded script with a variant augmented-preset script to determine the relative contributions of components of the scripts in terms of (1) increasing personal engagement of the students versus optimizing of the starting seed-comments and (2) grouping students using the conflict schema approach versus random assignment of students to groups. The results suggest that engaging students in the exploration of a diverse set of preset discussion seed-comments coupled with a conflict schema approach leads to the highest gains in learning.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the National Science Foundation, grant 0334199, as part of the center for Technology Enhanced Learning in Science (TELS).

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Correspondence to Douglas B. Clark.

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Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this study are those of the researchers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Clark, D.B., D’Angelo, C.M. & Menekse, M. Initial Structuring of Online Discussions to Improve Learning and Argumentation: Incorporating Students’ Own Explanations as Seed Comments Versus an Augmented-Preset Approach to Seeding Discussions. J Sci Educ Technol 18, 321–333 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-009-9159-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-009-9159-1

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