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Instructor Influence on Reasoned Argument in Discussion Boards

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Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 53, Number 2, ISSN 1042-1629


In this study, we explore the extent to which two instructional techniques promote critical discourse in an online class on educational standards and curriculum: instructor stance (challenging/nonchallenging) and topic level (higher order/lower order). Posts from 25 students, across four modules, were analyzed. These four modules constituted approximately one third of the course, and were selected because the professor was the sole facilitator for them. Results indicate that, regardless of topic level, a challenging stance by the professor had a positive effect on the percentage of student posts that referenced readings and theory. There was an interaction between level and stance on student use of reasoned argument. Lower order challenging forums were associated with a greater percentage of reasoned posts. This may be due to the abstractness of the professor's probes in higher order forums. Implications for future research include empirical investigations incorporating contextual variables and qualitative studies to ascertain how students engage with bulletin boards.


Gerber, S., Scott, L., Clements, D.H. & Sarama, J. (2005). Instructor Influence on Reasoned Argument in Discussion Boards. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(2), 25-40. Retrieved April 18, 2021 from .

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