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An Analysis of Higher Order Thinking in Online Discussions


IETI Volume 46, Number 2, ISSN 1470-3297


This paper describes a study of online discussion forums as tools for promoting higher-order thinking. The study was carried out in a women's university in the United Arab Emirates. Data, in the form of online discussion forum transcripts, were collected over a 20-week semester and were analysed according to a model developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2001). Discussion forum postings were analysed for evidence of higher-order thinking and were placed within one of the model's categories of "triggering", "exploration", "integration", or "resolution". The researchers did find evidence of higher-order thinking processes. The results showed that the majority of postings were either categorised as "exploration" or "integration". The results also supported the notion that the correct conditions need to be present in order for higher-order thinking to arise. The findings suggested that the initial teacher prompt or question may have had a bearing on the nature of learners' postings. (Contains 3 tables and 1 figure.)


McLoughlin, D. & Mynard, J. (2009). An Analysis of Higher Order Thinking in Online Discussions. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 46(2), 147-160. Retrieved September 18, 2019 from .

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