Levels of Interaction in Online Discussion: Case Study of an Online Research Methodology Course
Abstract: Lack of peer interaction is one disadvantage of online learning. In this study, we examined learners’ peer interaction in two levels of online discussion. Discussion posts made by learners who enrolled in two sections of a graduate level Introduction to Educational Research course were analyzed. Discussion responses were either posted to be accessible to the entire class (i.e., big group level discussion for the spring section) or to be viewed by an assigned three to four people group (i.e., small group level discussion for the fall section). Findings suggested that small group level discussion was related to more diverse interaction types and more interaction that may provoke critical thinking than big group level discussion. When online courses are offered, we recommend the instructor to consider small group discussion unless a small size class (e.g., less than 10 people) is expected.