Gender Differences in Online Communication of Teacher Preparation Students

Gender Differences in Online Communication of Teacher Preparation Students

William J. Gibbs (Duquesne University, USA) and Ronan S. Bernas (Eastern Illinois University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-899-9.ch004


Research has shown that gender disparities exist in online communication. Understanding the factors that enable students to effectively communicate online and ultimately manage their own discussions has important learning and pedagogical implications. This study examined the communication and interactional processes of peer-directed online discussions. Gender disparities were found in communication styles and in the use of socio-emotional content. Men were expository whereas messages posted by women were of an epistolary nature. Women used socio-emotional content more than men. However, interactions, such as the extent to which men and women persisted in message threads as well as responded to one another, were comparable overall. Although not significant, women posted more messages of longer length but men received more replies to their messages. The findings have important pedagogical implications for educators who wish to engage students in peer-directed text-based asynchronous discussions.
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Theoretical Framework

The researchers’ rationale for analyzing male-female communication was predicated on two assumptions: (a) in CMC environments educators employ learner-centered approaches that afford students increased control over learning activities and ultimately their own learning. Students are often given responsibility for creating and sustaining online peer-directed discussions; (b) gender differences have been shown to exist in male-female online communication and interaction, which may profoundly affect communication. The dynamics of or interactional exchanges occurring within peer-directed discussions may exacerbate gender disparities.

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