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Size Matters: An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Discussion Forum Format on Social Presence and Cognitive Presence

, University of Minnesota, United States

EdMedia + Innovate Learning, in Amsterdam, Netherlands Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC


Although perhaps the most popular form of student-to-student interaction in an online class, the large group forum within the course’s learning management system (LMS) may be one of the least effective discussion methods for engaging students either socially or cognitively. Grounded in the Community of Inquiry model, this exploratory study combines content analysis with social network analysis and statistical methods to examine the association of discussion forum format to students’ demonstrated social and cognitive presences. This study includes both large- and small-group discussion forum formats from within the LMS as well as less traditional non-LMS formats. In total, six discussion forum formats are analyzed to assess which format encourages the greatest proportion of students to engage both with each other and with course content in more meaningful ways.


Barbaro, V. (2018). Size Matters: An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Discussion Forum Format on Social Presence and Cognitive Presence. In T. Bastiaens, J. Van Braak, M. Brown, L. Cantoni, M. Castro, R. Christensen, G. Davidson-Shivers, K. DePryck, M. Ebner, M. Fominykh, C. Fulford, S. Hatzipanagos, G. Knezek, K. Kreijns, G. Marks, E. Sointu, E. Korsgaard Sorensen, J. Viteli, J. Voogt, P. Weber, E. Weippl & O. Zawacki-Richter (Eds.), Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (pp. 2068-2074). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved February 23, 2019 from .

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