Instructional Science

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 323–343

Broadening the notion of participation in online discussions: examining patterns in learners’ online listening behaviors

  • Alyssa Friend Wise
  • Jennifer Speer
  • Farshid Marbouti
  • Ying-Ting Hsiao
Article

Abstract

While a great deal of research has studied the messages students contribute to electronic discussion forums, productive participation in online learning conversations requires more than just making posts. One important pre-condition for productive interactivity and knowledge construction is engagement with the posts contributed by others. In this study, these actions (how learners interact with the existing discussion; which posts they attend to, when, and how) are conceptualized as “online listening behaviors” and are studied in the context of a large undergraduate business course taught in a blended format. Clickstream data was collected for 96 participants from 3 week-long online discussions to solve organizational behavior challenges in groups of 10–13. Listening behaviors accounted for almost three-quarters of the time learners spent in the discussions, and cluster analysis identified three distinct patterns of behavior: (1) Superficial Listeners, Intermittent Talkers; (2) Concentrated Listeners, Integrated Talkers; and (3) Broad Listeners, Reflective Talkers. The clusters differed in the depth, breadth, temporal contiguity, and reflectivity of their listening as well as in their patterns of speaking. An illustrative case study of how the listening behaviors were enacted by one student from each cluster over time was used to deepen the characterization and interpretation of each cluster. The results indicate that online listening is a complex phenomenon and a substantial component of students’ participation in online discussions. Findings are compared to the previous work on student learning approaches and implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Keywords

Online learning Computer mediated communication Asynchronous discussion groups Learning strategies Student participation Mixed methods 

References

  1. Allen, I. E., Seaman, J., & Garrett, R. (2007). Blending in: The extent and promise of blended education in the United States. Needham, MA: The Sloan Consortium. Retrieved month date, year, from http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/Blending_In.pdf. Accessed 25 April 2012.
  2. Barab, S. A., Bowdish, B. E., & Lawless, K. A. (1997). Hypermedia navigation: Profiles of hypermedia users. Educational Technology Research and Development, 45(3), 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bliuc, A. M., Ellis, R., Goodyear, P., & Piggott, L. (2010). Learning through face-to-face and online discussions: Associations between students’ conceptions, approaches and academic performance in political science. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(3), 512–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. del Valle, R. (2006). Online learning: Learner characteristics and their approaches to managing learning. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana.Google Scholar
  5. del Valle, R., & Duffy, T. M. (2007). Online learning: Learner characteristics and their approaches to managing learning. Instructional Science, 37(2), 129–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dennen, V. P. (2005). From message posting to learning dialogues: Factors affecting learner participation in asynchronous discussion. Distance Education, 26(1), 127–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dennen, V. P. (2008). Pedagogical lurking: Student engagement in non-posting discussion behavior. Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 1624–1633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41(10), 1040–1048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Elliot, A. J., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (1996). Approach and avoidance goals and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 968–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Entwistle, N. (2009). Teaching for understanding at university: Deep approaches and distinctive ways of thinking. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Hamann, K., Pollock, P. H., & Wilson, B. M. (2009). Learning from “listening” to peers in online political science classes. Journal of Political Science Education, 5(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Herring, S. (1999). Interactional coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 4(4). Retrieved month date, year, from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol4/issue4/herring.html. Accessed 25 April 2012.
  13. Hew, K. F., Cheung, W. S., & Ng, C. S. L. (2008). Student contribution in asynchronous online discussion: A review of the research and empirical exploration. Instructional Science, 38(6), 571–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hewitt, J. (2001). Beyond threaded discourse. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 7(3), 207–221.Google Scholar
  15. Hewitt, J. (2003). How habitual online practices affect the development of asynchronous discussion threads. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 28(1), 31–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hewitt, J. (2005). Toward an understanding of how threads die in asynchronous computer conferences. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14(4), 567–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hewitt, J., Brett, C., & Peters, V. (2007). Scan rate: A new metric for the analysis of reading behaviors in asynchronous computer conferencing environments. American Journal of Distance Education, 21(4), 215–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liu, M., & Bera, S. (2005). An analysis of cognitive tool use patterns in a hypermedia learning environment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(1), 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Luppicini, R. (2007). Review of computer mediated communication research for education. Instructional Science, 35(2), 141–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mayes, T. (2001). Learning technology and learning relationships. In J. Stephenson (Ed.), Teaching and learning online: New pedagogies for new technologies (pp. 16–26). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  21. Meece, J. L., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Hoyle, R. (1988). Students’ goal orientations and cognitive engagement in classroom activities. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(4), 514–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Morris, L. V., Finnegan, C., & Wu, S. (2005). Tracking student behavior, persistence, and achievement in online courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(3), 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Muller, M., Shami, N. S., Millen, D. R., & Feinberg, J. (2010). We are all lurkers: Consuming behaviors among authors and readers in an enterprise file-sharing service. In Proceedings of GROUP’10 (pp. 201–210), New York: ACM.Google Scholar
  24. Nagel, L., Blignaut, A. S., & Cronjé, J. C. (2009). Read-only participants: A case for student communication in online classes. Interactive Learning Environments, 17(1), 37–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nonnecke, B., Preece, J., Andrews, D., & Voutour, R. (2004). Online lurkers tell why (pp. 1–7). New York: Proceedings of the Tenth American Conference on Information Systems.Google Scholar
  26. Palmer, S., Holt, D., & Bray, S. (2008). Does the discussion help? The impact of a formally assessed online discussion on final student results. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 847–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Phan, H. P. (2008). Unifying different theories of learning: Theoretical framework and empirical evidence. Educational Psychology, 28(3), 325–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Poole, D. M. (2000). Student participation in a discussion-oriented online course: A case study. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(2), 162–177.Google Scholar
  29. Rafaeli, S., Ravid, G., & Soroka, V. (2004). De-lurking in virtual communities: A social communication network approach to measuring the effects of social and cultural capital. Proceedings of the HICSS-37, Big Island, Hawaii.Google Scholar
  30. Shank, G., & Cunningham, D. (1996). Mediated phosphor dots: Toward a post-cartesian model of CMC via the semiotic superhighway. In C. Ess (Ed.), Philosophical perspectives on computer-mediated communication. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  31. Statistics Canada. (2007). Language highlight tables, 2006 Census. Retrieved month date, year from http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/hlt/97-555/Index-eng.cfm. Accessed 25 April 2012.
  32. Sutton, L. A. (2001). The principle of vicarious interaction in computer-mediated communications. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 7(3), 223–242.Google Scholar
  33. Thomas, M. J. W. (2002). Learning within incoherent structures: The space of online discussion forums. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18(3), 351–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ward, J. H. (1963). Hierarchical grouping to optimize an objective function. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 58(301), 236–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Webb, E., Jones, A., Barker, P., & van Schaik, P. (2004). Using e-learning dialogues in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 41(1), 93–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wise, A. F., Hsiao, Y. T., Marbouti, F., Speer, J., & Perera, N. (2012a). Initial validation of “listening” behavior typologies for online discussions using microanalytic case studies. In Proceedings of the international conference of the learning sciences 2012. Sydney, Australia: International Society of the Learning Sciences (in press).Google Scholar
  37. Wise, A. F., Marbouti, F., Speer, J., & Hsiao, Y. T. (2011). Τowards an understanding of ‘listening’ in online discussions: A cluster analysis of learners’ interaction patterns. In H. Spada, G. Stahl, N. Miyake & N. Law (Eds.), Connecting computer supported collaborative learning to policy and practice: CSCL2011 conference proceeding (Vol. I), Long papers (pp. 88–95), International Society of the Learning Sciences.Google Scholar
  38. Wise, A. F., Perera, N., Hsiao, Y., Speer, J., & Marbouti, F. (2012b). Microanalytic case studies of individual participation patterns in an asynchronous online discussion in an undergraduate blended course. Internet and Higher Education, 15(2), 108–117.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyssa Friend Wise
    • 1
  • Jennifer Speer
    • 1
  • Farshid Marbouti
    • 1
  • Ying-Ting Hsiao
    • 1
  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversitySurreyCanada

Personalised recommendations