Exploring the impact of online and face-to-face discourse on collaboration and critical thinking

This study examined how the use of online discourse tools compared to face-to-face discourse with regard to secondary school student interaction and student performance, It also xplored the ways in which the teacher can use online discourse tools to foster collaborative and cooperative learning opportunities in which students may feel more comfortable expressing their viewpoints, be more open with their thoughts and opinions, and promote collaboration and critical thinking. The participants consisted of 62 8th grade Language Arts students from two separate class periods. Students engaged in three different discourse opportunities and an ANCOVA was run to compare means across three separate measures: interactions, collaboration, and critical thinking. Additionally, a survey was given to the students in the study to gather self-efficacy data. Results of the study showed that there was a significant difference in the number of interactions, with students interacting more in the online forum, and a significant difference in terms of collaboration, with students having a higher level of collaboration in the face-to-face group. The result examining evidence of differences in critical thinking between the two groups was not statistically significant. Analysis of the survey data revealed no differences in perceptions of the activity. Conclusions are presented.