Structuring asynchronous online discussion groups : the impact of role-supported student facilitation
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The purpose of the current study was to explore the effectiveness of a role-supported, student-facilitation strategy on online discussions from multiple dimensions: participation, interaction, levels of knowledge construction and cognition, as well as the impact of each role. All 13 graduate students who enrolled in a master's-level online course participated in this study. First, an unfacilitated discussion was implemented, followed by three student-facilitated discussions, in which four volunteers were assigned different facilitator roles (Devil?s advocate, Questioner, Information provider, and Summarizer). At the end of the class, 10 out of 13 students completed an online survey about their experience in the student-facilitated online discussions. Transcripts of the four online discussions were collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics, social network analysis, content analysis, sequential analysis, and qualitative analysis. Results indicated that student-facilitated and unfacilitated online discussions were similar in respect to participation, but student-facilitated discussions demonstrated significantly improved interaction patterns and levels of knowledge construction and different levels of cognition. The Devil?s Advocate role had a positive impact and the Summarizer?s role had limited effects on levels of knowledge construction. None of the four roles consistently demonstrated a positive impact on participants? cognitive levels. Responses to the survey showed that the student-facilitation strategy was valuable in both group and individual levels.
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