Attending to others’ posts in asynchronous discussions: Learners’ online “listening” and its relationship to speaking

  • Alyssa Friend Wise
  • Simone Nicole Hausknecht
  • Yuting Zhao
Article

Abstract

Theoretical models of collaborative learning through online discussions presuppose that students generally attend to others’ posts. However, a succession of studies over the last decade has shown this assumption to be unwarranted. Instead, research indicates that learners attend to others’ posts in diverse and particular ways—an activity we have conceptualized as online “listening.” In this study, we take an important step forward in developing a robust theory of online listening by examining the relationship between how learners “listen” (access existing posts) and “speak” (contribute posts) in online discussions. Ten variables indexing four dimensions of students’ listening (breadth, depth, temporal contiguity and revisitation) and five variables indexing three dimensions of students’ speaking (discursiveness, depth of content and reflectivity) were calculated for 31 students participating in 6 week-long online discussions as part of an undergraduate educational psychology course. Multi-level mixed-model linear regressions indicated that responsiveness of students’ posts was positively predicted by how often they revisited previously read peer posts, and negatively related to a greater number of posts in the discussion overall. The depth of posts’ contents was predicted by the percentage of posts viewed that students actually read (as opposed to scanned). An exploratory follow-up analysis indicated that these listening-speaking relationships manifest differently over time for distinct subsets of learners (e.g., a decrease in variable pairs versus corresponding fluctuations around stable levels). Put together, results suggest that when students take the time to read and re-read their peers’ posts there are related benefits in the quality of the posts they contribute.

Keywords

Asynchronous discussion groups Online learning Student participation Computer mediated communication 

References

  1. Bodie, G., Worthington, D., Imhof, M., & Cooper, L. O. (2008). What would a unified field of listening look like? A proposal linking past perspectives and future endeavors. International Journal of Listening, 22(2), 103–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boulos, M. N., & Wheeler, S. (2007). The emerging web 2.0 social software: an enabling suite of sociable technologies in health and health care education. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 24(1), 2–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brooks C, Greer J & Gutwin, C. (in press). The data-assisted approach to building intelligent technology enhanced learning environments. To appear in J. Larusson & B. White (Eds.) The handbook of learning analytics: Methods, tools and approaches. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  4. Burleson, B. R. (2011). A constructivist approach to listening. International Journal of Listening, 25(1–2), 27–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheung, W. S., Hew, K. F., & Ling Ng, C. S. (2008). Toward an understanding of why students contribute in asynchronous online discussions. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 38(1), 29–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. De Wever, B., Schellens, T., Valcke, M., & Van Keer, H. (2006). Content analysis schemes to analyze transcripts of online asynchronous discussion groups: a review. Computers & Education, 46(1), 6–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dennen, V. P. (2008). Pedagogical lurking: student engagement in non-posting discussion behavior. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(4), 1624–1633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Garrison, J. (1996). A Deweyan theory of democratic listening. Educational Theory, 46(4), 429–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 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 knowledge in computer conferencing. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 17(4), 397–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hakkarainen, K., Lipponen, L., & Järvelä, S. (2002). Epistemology of inquiry and computer-supported collaborative learning. In T. Koschmann, R. Hall, & N. Miyake (Eds.), CSCL 2: Carrying forward the conversation (pp. 129–156). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  11. Hara, N., Bonk, C. J., & Angeli, C. (2000). Content analysis of online discussion in an applied educational psychology course. Instructional Science, 28(2), 115–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harasim, L. (2000). Shift happens: online education as a new paradigm in learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 3(1/2), 41–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hew, K. F., Cheung, W. S., & Ng, C. S. L. (2010). Student contribution in asynchronous online discussion: a review of the research and empirical exploration. Instructional Science, 38(6), 571–606.Google Scholar
  14. Hewitt, J. (2003). How habitual online practices affect the development of asynchronous discussion threads. Journal Educational Computing Research, 28(1), 31–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hewitt, J. (2005). Toward an understanding of how threads die in asynchronous computer conferences. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14(4), 567–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 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
  17. Jonassen, D. H., & Kwon, H. (2001). Communication patterns in computer mediated versus face-to-face group problem solving. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(1), 35–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Knowlton, D. S. (2005). A taxonomy of learning through asynchronous discussion. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 16(2), 155–177.Google Scholar
  19. Lin, H., Hong, Z., & Lawrenz, F. (2012). Promoting and scaffolding argumentation through reflective asynchronous discussions. Computers & Education, 59(2), 378–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lipponen, L. (2002). Exploring foundations for computer-supported collaborative learning. In G. Stahl (Ed.), Proceedings of CSCL 2002 (pp. 72–81). Boulder: ISLS.Google Scholar
  21. Marbouti, F. (2012). Design, implementation and testing of a visual discussion forum to address new post bias. Unpublished masters thesis. Burnaby, CA: Simon Fraser University.Google Scholar
  22. Marbouti, F. & Wise, A. F. (in review). Starburst: A new graphical interface to support productive engagement with others’ posts in online discussions.Google 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 ACM 2010 International Conference on Supporting Group Work (pp. 201–210). Sanibel, FL: ACMGoogle 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. In Bullen, C., Stohr, E. (Eds.). Proceedings of the Tenth American Conference on Information Systems 2004 (pp. 1–7) New York: Association for 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.Google Scholar
  27. Pena-Shaff, J. B., & Nicholls, C. (2004). Analyzing student interactions and meaning construction in computer bulletin board discussions. Computers & Education, 42(3), 243–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peters, V., & Hewitt, J. (2010). An investigation of student practices in asynchronous computer conferencing courses. Computers & Education, 54(4), 951–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Preece, J., Nonnecke, B., & Andrews, D. (2004). The top five reasons for lurking: improving community experiences for everyone. Computers in Human Behavior, 20(2), 201–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 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. In Proceedings of the 37th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, (p70203, 10pp). Big Island, Hawaii: IEEE.Google Scholar
  31. Rovai, A. P. (2007). Facilitating online discussions effectively. The Internet and Higher Education , 10(1), 77–88.Google Scholar
  32. Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2006). Knowledge building: Theory, pedagogy, and technology. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 97–116). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Stahl, G. (2005). Group cognition in computer‐assisted collaborative learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21(2), 79–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Strother, D. B. (1987). On listening. The Phi Delta Kappan, 68(8), 625–628.Google Scholar
  35. Suthers, D. D., Dwyer, N., Medina, R., & Vatrapu, R. (2010). A framework for conceptualizing, representing, and analyzing distributed interaction. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 5(1), 5–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sutton, L. A. (2001). The principle of vicarious interaction in computer-mediated communications. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 7(3), 223–242.Google Scholar
  37. 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
  38. 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
  39. Weinberger, A., & Fischer, F. (2006). A framework to analyze argumentative knowledge construction in computer-supported collaborative learning. Computers & Education, 46(1), 71–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wise, A. F., Zhao; Y. & Hausknecht, S. N. (in press). Learning analytics for online discussions: Embedded and extracted approaches. Journal of Learning Analytics. Google Scholar
  41. 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 J. van Aalst, J., K. Thompson, K., M. Jacobson, & P. Reimann (Eds.) Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences 2012 (pp. 56–63). Sydney, Australia: ISLS.Google Scholar
  42. Wise, A. F., Hsiao, Y. T., Marbouti, F. & Zhao, Y. (2012b). Tracing ideas and participation in an asynchronous online discussion across individual and group levels over time. In J. van Aalst, K. Thompson, M. Jacobson & P. Reimann (Eds.) Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences 2012 (pp. 431–435). Sydney, Australia: ISLS.Google Scholar
  43. Wise, A. F., Marbouti, F., Hsiao, Y., & Hausknecht, S. (2012c). A survey of factors contributing to learners’ “listening” behaviors in asynchronous discussions. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 47(4), 461–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wise, A. F., Perera, N., Hsiao, Y., Speer, J., & Marbouti, F. (2012d). 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wise, A. F., Saghafian, M., & Padmanabhan, P. (2012e). Towards more precise design guidance: specifying and testing the functions of assigned student roles in online discussions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 60(1), 55–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wise, A. F., Speer, J., Marbouti, F., & Hsiao, Y. (2013a). Broadening the notion of participation in online discussions: examining patterns in learners’ online listening behaviors. Instructional Science, 41(2), 323–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wise, A. F., Zhao; Y. & Hausknecht, S. N. (2013a). Learning analytics for online discussions: A pedagogical model for intervention with embedded and extracted analytics. In D. Suthers & K. Verbert (Eds.) Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 48–56). Leuven, Belgium: ACM.Google Scholar
  48. Wise, A. F., Zhao, Y., Hausknecht, S. & Chiu, M. M. (2013b). Temporal considerations in analyzing and designing for online discussions in education: Examining duration, sequence, pace and salience. In E. Barbera & P. Reimann (Eds.) Assessment and evaluation of time factors in online teaching and learning (pp. 198–231). Hershey, Pennsylvania: Idea Group Incorporated.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc. and Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyssa Friend Wise
    • 1
    • 2
  • Simone Nicole Hausknecht
    • 1
  • Yuting Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversitySurreyCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationSimon Fraser UniversitySurreyCanada

Personalised recommendations