This study of the flow of online discussions examined how previous messages affected the current message along five dimensions: (1) evaluations (agreement, disagreement, or unresponsive actions); (2) knowledge content (contribution, repetition, or null content); (3) social cues (positive, negative, or none); (4) personal information (number of visits); and (5) elicitation (eliciting response or not). Using dynamic multilevel analysis (DMA) and a structural equation model (SEM), this study analyzed 131 messages of 47 participants across seven topics in the mathematics forum of a university Bulletin Board System (BBS) Website. Results showed that a disagreement or contribution in the previous message yielded more disagreements and social cue displays in the current message. Unlike face-to-face discussions, online discussion messages that disagreed with a previous message elicited more responses. Together, these results suggest that teachers can use and manage online discussions to promote critical thinking, facilitate discussion of controversial topics, and reduce status effects.
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2008|