Student Interaction and Knowledge Construction in Case-Based Learning in Educational Psychology using Online Discussions: The Role of Structure
AbstractThe authors analyzed students’ patterns of interaction and knowledge construction in asynchronous online discussions of cases in two Educational Psychology classes. They performed quantitative analyses of the outlines of postings and transcripts of online messages from group discussions to determine participation and interaction rates, and qualitative analyses of patterns of interaction and knowledge construction. They found statements of clarification, elaboration, and interpretation with grounds appeared to be most directly related to the knowledge construction process. This process appeared to be mainly self-reflective, even when it began by acknowledging others’ contributions or clarifying information to others. Scaffolding, via the gradual posting of questions to help guide the online discussions, might have been more effective in helping students construct the conceptual space, create relationships between conceptual knowledge and facts, and evaluate solutions than posing all guiding questions at once. Although online participation and interaction in online discussions were positively correlated with mean exam scores, this relationship was stronger in the class where online discussion proceeded gradually. The authors discuss implications for teaching and further research.