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Between face-to-face and cyberspace: Case studies of nonnative speaking graduate students' experiences in alternative discussion modes

, Indiana University, United States

Indiana University . Awarded


This study explores how nonnative speaking graduate students from East Asian countries experience class discussions via face-to-face and on-line discussion modes, including factors influencing their perceptions, participation, and their preferences between discussion modes.

Qualitative case study methodology was employed to examine five NNS participants' participation in a residential graduate course, in which face-to-face and a Web-based forum were the locus for class discussions, in a regular fifteen-week semester at a large Midwestern university. Data was gathered from multiple sources, including weekly class observation in both settings, four formal interviews of the participants' perceptions and experiences in participation via both modes, one formal interview with the instructor, Web-based forum transcripts, e-mail transcripts, class syllabus, and class handouts. A conceptual framework, including six themes (preparation, endogenous traits, background traits, professor traits, peer traits, and class traits), was employed for data analysis.

The results of the study revealed that participants varied in their performance, perceptions, and preferences in both settings. First, the participants showed two types of participation: the first type was similar participation in both modes and the second was greater participation in on-line. Second, their perceptions of class participation via both modes influenced their participation. Those who valued class discussions tended to participate actively in class discussions regardless the modes they used. Third, each participant was influenced by the factors in each theme listed in the framework. However, experienced students tended to value class discussions and participate more in both discussion modes than novice students. Moreover, they were less constrained by their endogenous traits and background traits. In contrast, constrained by their low confidence in their English proficiency and content knowledge, by cultural factors, and by lack of experience from work and study, the novice students tended to find on-line discussions more beneficial. Pedagogical implications for adopting on-line discussions in residential courses and improving NNS graduate students' class participation are provided.


Chang, C.F. Between face-to-face and cyberspace: Case studies of nonnative speaking graduate students' experiences in alternative discussion modes. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University. Retrieved November 15, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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