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Fostering Quality Online Dialogue: Does Labelling Help?

, Bishop's University, Canada ; , , Concordia University, Canada

Journal of Interactive Learning Research Volume 21, Number 2, ISSN 1093-023X Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC


Despite its potential, online dialogue (online dialogue) can be superficial. Following Vygotskian (1978) and design experiment approaches (Brown, 1992), this study explores a labelling feature that allows students to tag parts of their messages. Data comes from 4 sessions of a graduate education course. Students engaged in 2-3 graded online activities in groups of 3-4. Students contributed labels for subsequent sessions. Field-notes and descriptive statistics suggested there were 7 labelling groups, 7 non-labelling groups, and 3 difficult-to-categorize groups. Types of labelling use emerged: interactive labelling, elaboration labelling, and interactive elaboration labelling. Labelling correlated to the quality of online dialogue (r=0.410). The Nelson-Denny text-comprehension measure, task-specific motivation, and labelling predicted approximately 25% of the variance in quality online dialogue, F(3,38)=5.149, p<0.05; adding labelling was significant. Narrative analyses suggested that some types of labelling more effectively supported online dialogue than did others. Content analyses (n=696 coded ‘paragraphs’) found the interactive elaboration labelling group contributed proportionately more segments coded as critical thinking than did the elaboration labelling group ((M=0.96 vs. M=0.50), especially more analysis and inference. Labelling correlated to performance on the final examination r=0.283. A model including the final, the Nelson-Denny, task-specific motivation, online dialogue marks, and labelling was significant, F(4, 37)=8.257, R=0.672, R2adj. =0.415, but adding labelling was not.


Bures, E., Abrami, P. & Schmid, R.F. (2010). Fostering Quality Online Dialogue: Does Labelling Help?. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 21(2), 187-213. Waynesville, NC: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved May 17, 2022 from .