Learning relationships in online contexts: a substantive theory constructed from the integrated analyses of learner-learner interaction and knoweldge construction in an undergraduate communication course
AbstractThis study examines the processes of, and the relationship between, learner-learner interaction and knowledge construction in online learning contexts within a single cohort of undergraduate students. The research strategy was a single case study with an embedded case design. Social network analysis (SNA) and constant comparative method, which incorporated the analytical procedures of constructivist grounded theory, were utilised to analyse the data. The analyses revealed how learners interacted and constructed knowledge within large and small groups using asynchronous and synchronous communication, how individual learners conceptualised interaction and knowledge construction in an online communication course and how learner perceptions shaped communication and learning. A substantive theory explaining the conditions, actions, interactions and consequences of learning relationships in online contexts was constructed and the research was acknowledged retrospectively as a grounded theory study. In this case, contextual conditions and learner perceptions shaped learning relationships. Participation in collaborative activities was characteristic of the course design yet the nature of that participation was self-determined and influenced by contextual conditions. Learners interacted with content and other learners to meet learning objectives and initiated communication strategies to overcome the challenges they associated with textual communication and collaboration in online groups. The learners‟ sense of place, participation in collaborative activities and communication strategies promoted the development of open, supportive relationships in large and small groups. The openness of those relationships facilitated a conversational mode of learning, which necessitated remembering, negotiating and articulating experience, knowledge and understanding. The connections between, and support among, learners promoted a sense of community. The learners' ability to share and model experiences, knowledge and understanding, combined with their perceptions of one another, led to increased understandings of self and others and resulted in personal and collective transformations. The theory has implications for educational practice as it reveals information about conditions for effective learner-learner interaction and knowledge construction in online courses. These findings are significant because they demonstrate that undergraduate learners participating in a first year online course can develop close relationships with peers and a sense of community. They also experienced learning which led to personal and collective transformation within a 12 week term.
Rossi, Dolene M. (2010) Learning relationships in online contexts: a substantive theory constructed from the integrated analyses of learner-learner interaction and knoweldge construction in an undergraduate communication course. [Thesis (PhD/Research)] (Unpublished)