This study examined how social (rather than cognitive) antecedents impact students’ use of justifications in online debates. Eighty-seven graduate-level students participated in four weekly online debates. Statistical discourse analysis of 2,028 postings revealed that gender, social distance, and time were linked to use of evidence and explanations. Females used more explanations, while males used more evidence. Responses to males’ messages presented more evidence than explanations. Responses to messages conveying greater versus less social proximity (we/you vs. he/she/they) presented more explanations and evidence, respectively. The findings suggest that systematic manipulation of debate protocol (pronoun usage, gender group composition) can be used to strategically elicit specific types of justifications to help groups work more effectively to achieve deeper shared understanding and learning. Copyright © 2019 AERA.
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2019|