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Learning through synchronous electronic discussion

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Computers & Education Volume 34, Number 3, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This article reports a study examining university student pairs carrying out an electronic discussion task in a synchronous computer mediated communication (CMC) system (NetMeeting). The purpose of the assignment was to raise students’ awareness concerning conceptions that characterise effective pedagogical interactions, by collaboratively comparing and discussing their analyses of a dialogue between a tutor and a student. To examine whether the use of synchronous CMC could meet this end, students’ dialogues are characterised in terms of their constructive and argumentative contributions, and by their focus on the meaning of concepts. In addition, a comparison was made with a control group in which no peer coach was available with two forms of peer coaching. Peer coaches were focussed either on structuring arguments or on reflectively checking arguments in terms of strength and relevance. First, the results indicate that the study of students’ learning from electronic discussions requires an analysis of focus in relation to argumentation. Second, the coaching instruction did not fulfil our expectations. In this study, students seem to need support to focus on meaning rather than on argumentation in general, but they may also need support to hold overview, to keep track of their discussion and to organise their interface. Text-based electronic communication seems to be sensitive to such issues that may cause meaningful interaction to be disturbed.


Veerman, A.L., Andriessen, J.E.B. & Kanselaar, G. (2000). Learning through synchronous electronic discussion. Computers & Education, 34(3), 269-290. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved December 13, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 30, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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