Indicators of Support in Online Interaction
Peer-to-peer interaction using computer-mediated communication (CMC) would appear to be a promising source of timely and cost-effective student support, but little empirical evidence regarding actual participant support behaviour has been presented (Lee, 2000). This paper reports a study of the occurrence of 13 online strategies defined as “supportive,” according to the categorizations found in an instrument called the Transcript Analysis Tool (TAT). The corpus used in the study consisted of three transcripts produced by students (graduate degree and professional development diploma candidates) engaged in course-related CMC conferencing. Analysis of the transcripts generated by the three groups showed the following:
- The support strategies most frequently used by the three groups were referential statements (statements which made reference to others’ previous comments; TAT type 2B), signatures, greetings, and horizontal questions (open-ended questions which invited negotiation of a plausible answer; TAT type 1B).
- There was some variability among the groups in the frequency of use of referential statements, horizontal questions, emoticons, and invitations to others.
- High- and low-support groups differed from each other in their use of referential statements, signatures, greetings, horizontal questions, rhetorical questions, and humour.
As an examination of the social element of three communities of inquiry, the study described how members of these groups attempted to connect with one another interpersonally, using asynchronous conferencing, on topics related to the conceptual content of the courses. The paper concludes that while in this case the above behaviours were the means most often used to support and encourage interaction, further examination of online support behaviours and strategies is needed, especially in relation to valued outcomes such as persistence, greater motivation, less stress, and, ultimately, enhanced learning.
Copyright (c) 2003 Patrick J. Fahy
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The copyright of all content published in IRRODL is retained by the authors.
This copyright agreement and use license ensures, among other things, that an article will be as widely distributed as possible and that the article can be included in any scientific and/or scholarly archive.
You are free to
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms below:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.