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Impacts of Directed Tutorial Activities in Computer Conferencing: A Case Study

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Distance Education Volume 24, Number 2, ISSN 0158-7919


This paper describes a qualitative study of asynchronous electronic conferencing by three tutorial groups on the same postgraduate course ("Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Worldwide"), forming part of an MA in Applied Linguistics (via Distance Education) at the Open University, UK. The groups varied in the degree to which the tutor participated in the discussion and in whether the tutor's input took the form of responding to student posts or the setting of tasks to scaffold the learners' development of academic skills. It is argued that the least interventionist strategy in terms of tutor response and task-setting resulted in the least productive conference discussion in terms of both communicative interaction and academic development, while a more interventionist role by the tutor depended for its success on characteristics of the tutor input and the task set. (Contains 4 tables and 2 notes.)


Painter, C., Coffin, C. & Hewings, A. (2003). Impacts of Directed Tutorial Activities in Computer Conferencing: A Case Study. Distance Education, 24(2), 159-173. Retrieved August 19, 2019 from .

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