Asynchronous text-based threaded discussion (AD) is a common strategy for encouraging student interaction in post-secondary courses. Although the literature has recommended specific practices for the AD instructor-moderator, little comparative
empirical experimental research has been done on this topic. This quasi-experimental,
mixed methodology study employed content analysis and focus group techniques to
examine the influence of selected instructional tactics (situated and abstract) and moderation styles (social and instrumental) on participant interaction and exchange in four parallel experimental ADs in an undergraduate professional nursing course. The literature suggested that a combination of situated instruction and social moderation would produce more complex AD. The findings of the present research, however, reveal that the experimental AD group treated with abstract instruction and instrumental moderation posted more messages than the other groups, although the AD group treated with the treatment consisting of a combination of situated instruction and social moderation posted messages that contained higher quantities of higher-order interaction types (such as horizontal questions and personal reflections) than those of the other groups. The study also found that moderation style accounted for greater differences in measures of interaction between the groups than did the instructional tactic, and that social moderation was associated with the posting of more personal reflections and abstract instruction with the posting of more scaffolding statements. The findings of this research suggest that a more comprehensive definition of communicative complexity is needed to identify and quantify higher-order AD interaction. The study concludes with recommendations for improving the TAT content analysis instrument and for future research.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May, 2008. Major: Education - Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Simon Hooper. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 181 pages.
Boatright, John Edwards.
The Influence of Instructional Tactic Selection and Moderation Style on Participant Interaction and Exchange in Asynchronous Threaded Online Discussion.
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