Collaboration or Cooperation? Analyzing Small Group Interactions in Educational Environments

Collaboration or Cooperation? Analyzing Small Group Interactions in Educational Environments

Trena M. Paulus (University Tennessee, USA)
Copyright: © 2005 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-408-8.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter illustrates how computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA) can be used systematically to investigate online communication. It argues that intended outcomes of learner interactions, such as meaningful dialogue and joint knowledge construction, must be identified and analyzed to better understand the effectiveness of online learning activities. The CMDA approach is illustrated through analysis of a synchronous chat held by a three-person graduate student group as it completed a course assignment at a distance. Findings from the analysis reveal that while all group members participated in the task and communicated with mutual respect, a cooperative rather than collaborative approach was taken, and group members did not challenge initial opinions. These findings can assist with the future instructional design of such online learning tasks. It is hoped that this chapter provides guidance to researchers in identifying intended outcomes of online collaboration and utilizing CMDA to determine whether the outcomes have been met.

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