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A Review of Research on Factors that Impact Aspects of Online Discussions Quality

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TLRPTIL Volume 51, Number 3, ISSN 8756-3894


In support of online discussions research, this review classifies and describes instructional interventions and learner characteristics that affect the quality of discussions. The review will help educators better understand factors such as group structure, mentoring, argumentation, and learner characteristics that play a role in shaping online discourse to suit course goals. Online discourse is seen as a fundamental constituent to enhancing student communication and sound understanding of course content. The increased use of online learning at the postsecondary level makes research in areas related to online discussions worthy of investigation. Based on analyses of distance education journal articles, Gibson (2003) raised two concerns regarding distance education research. The first is the scarce supply of learner-focused research in this field. The second is the lack of a sound theoretical foundation regarding learners and the learning process. These concerns can only be addressed by continuous and sustained research endeavors in the area of online education. This research review addresses one major gap in this area, the quality of online discourse, by classifying and describing factors that affect the growth and quality of online discussions. Without trying to exhaust the existing research on online discourse, this paper is an attempt to categorize and describe major studies that explored aspects of online discussions. To ease understanding, these factors were grouped in two categories: instructional interventions and learner characteristics. Instructional interventions includes group structure, mentoring and scaffolding, argumentative instructions, and guiding frameworks. Learner characteristics include personal epistemology and personality characteristics.


Spatariu, A., Quinn, L.F. & Hartley, K. (2007). A Review of Research on Factors that Impact Aspects of Online Discussions Quality. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 51(3), 44-48. Retrieved April 20, 2021 from .

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