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Learning in asynchronous discussion groups: a multilevel approach to study the influence of student, group and task characteristics

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The research reported in the current article studies the impact of learning in asynchronous discussion groups on students' final exam scores and levels of knowledge construction. Multilevel analyses were applied to uncover the specific influence of student, group and task variables. The results indicate that the impact of student characteristics on both dependent variables is of higher significance than characteristics of the discussion group students are allocated to. With regard to levels of knowledge construction, task characteristics also appear to be of importance.  With regard to final exam scores the analyses reveal a significant impact from student learning style, attitude towards task-based learning, the number of student contributions and the level of knowledge construction in these contributions. No significant group characteristics were observed.  As to levels of knowledge construction, the analyses revealed that the amount of contributions and the attitude towards the online learning environment are significant predictors. The intensity of the interaction in a group had a significant impact. As to task characteristics, significant differences were found between consecutive themes. These disappeared when taking into account task complexity.
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Keywords: Computer-mediated communication; Cooperative/collaborative learning; Interactive learning environments; Post-secondary education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Education, Ghent University, Belgium

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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