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Forces in space: A Bakhtinian exploration of online writing groups

, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, United States

Indiana University of Pennsylvania . Awarded


In an era of high-tech collaborative corporations and where writing teachers need to create collaborative, learner-centered online learning environments, writing teachers need to know what centripetal and centrifugal forces effect the social cohesion of online writing groups and what centripetal and centrifugal forces effect the performance of collaborative tasks by online writing groups. The problem for writing teachers is to understand how these forces impede and/or foster the development of writing teams and their performance of writing tasks.

This study used qualitative analysis to explore the centripetal and centrifugal forces acting within the heteroglossia of three online writing groups in an online freshman composition class. Coded threaded discussions, online chats, group created documents, interviews, reflective essays and exit surveys were analyzed to reveal themes that led to the general conclusion that the added element of cyberspace makes it more difficult for an online writing group to socially cohere and for an online writing group to write a collaborative essay.

Besides this general conclusion, this study produced seven conclusions specific to these groups related to the formation of social cohesion in online writing groups and four conclusions related to the task performance of online writing groups. The most compelling of these conclusions suggest that women feel more empowered to lead online writing groups than they would a group operating in physical space. An equally compelling conclusion suggests that an online environment makes group members less likely to negotiate to a consensus because they are more likely to insist a document's content reflect their own individual vision of it. These two conclusions need more research as well as several others that this study produced to see if they can be applied generally.

This study offers greater insight into what happens in online writing groups as they try to form a social bond that will allow them to perform a writing task. This knowledge will help writing teachers form online learner centered environments and facilitate online writing groups.


Ritke Jones, W.F. Forces in space: A Bakhtinian exploration of online writing groups. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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