This research studies higher order thinking (HOT) processes in asynchronous discussions situated in a campus-based course that involved 11 pairs of graduate students. In these discussions, students examined assessment strategies used for teaching purposes jointly in one week. Taking a grounded theory approach, messages derived from discussions were analyzed with qualitative and quantitative analyses. The unit of analysis was concept. Thinking acts were categorized into communication sequences of initiation, response and comment. These sequences were further categorized with a 5-dimension taxonomy derived from the patterns of these acts observed. Statistical analysis was used to observe the frequency of these categories, and to validate the categorization consistency among coders. The results strongly suggest that HOT emerges when existing ideas are expanded and changed, and when ideas are expanded, new concepts emerge as these ideas are pondered from a wider perspective. The implication is that online discussion is an effective learning activity when students participate.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Higher Order Learning: Learn to think.
Dialogic Thinking: Dialogic thinking is a cognitive process engaged in innercommunication with oneself and intercommunication with others.
Online Learning: Online learning is learning on the Internet.
Thinking Skills: Thinking skills are intellectual skills, for example, critical thinking and synthesis.
Shared Cognition: In shared cognition knowledge is constructed via dialogic thinking in which ideas are shared and pondered in a group or a community.
Online Discussion: An online discussion is examining a commonly shared issue jointly in a conversation on electronic conferencing, for example, discussion forum.
Higher Order Thinking: Thinking about thinking. Also refers to metacognition.
Distributed Cognition: In distributed cognition knowledge is distributed in the process of dialogic interaction in which meanings of concepts are negotiated and constructed in consensus.