Does Online Discussion Produce Increased Interaction and Critical Thinking†?

Leonard Shedletsky (University of Southern Maine, USA)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 38
EISBN13: 9781609603298|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-863-0.ch001
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Abstract

This chapter explores the question: Does online discussion increase critical thinking and interaction? It presents a selective review of the literature concerned with critical thinking and/or interaction during online discussion. It reports a program of 5 studies of the effects of instructional media and instructional methods on critical thinking and interaction. Study 1 tests the influence on critical thinking of online vs. face-to-face discussion, individual vs. group consensus in summarizing discussion, and discussion of examples of concepts vs. discussion of more abstract analysis. Study 2 examines the relationship between the level of critical thinking in discussion and the quality of papers later written by discussants. Study 3 explores the question: Can a teaching assistant (TA) help to facilitate student-to-student interaction and critical thinking? Study 4 asks: Does personal relevance of discussion topic influence student participation and level of critical thinking in discussion online? Study 5 asks: Does the use of rubrics influence the level of student interaction and/or the level of critical thinking in online discussion? The evidence suggests that it is easier to influence students to interact than to think critically. The chapter offers some suggestions on how to increase student-to-student interaction and critical thinking.
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