A Content Analytic Comparison of Learning Processes in Online and Face-to-Face Case Study Discussions

February 9, 2005

This study used a content analytic framework (derived primarily from previous work of Anderson, Archer, Garrison, and Rourke) to analyze transcripts from eight case study discussions, four FTF and four ALN. While previous authors developed a model that studies cognitive, social, and teaching processes in ALN discussions, the current scheme also considers characteristics of the discourse process. The findings provide evidence that ALNs generate high levels of cognitive activity, at least equal to, and in some cases superior to, the cognitive processes in the FTF classroom. The findings also suggest that students assume some aspects of the teacher’s role in ALNs, and that student-to-student interactions contain a greater proportion of high-level cognitive indicators than do student-to-teacher interactions.

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