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A comparative analysis of e-mail and face-to-face communication in an educational environment

Internet and Higher Education Volume 9, Number 3, ISSN 1096-7516 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Electronic mail (e-mail) is an extremely important medium for Internet-based education. Due to its unique characteristics, there is reason to be concerned that students do not put appropriate care into writing messages that are sent via e-mail. This has significant implications for the effectiveness of online learning environments. This paper describes an empirical research project to investigate the amount of thought students put into e-mail communication versus traditional face-to-face communication. A survey was administered to 596 undergraduates. The results of this survey indicate that students put significantly more thought into e-mail communication with the instructor and groups of peers than they do for equivalent face-to-face communication. At the same time, students tend to put about the same amount of thought into e-mail compared to verbal communication with individual peers. Finally, the research uncovered some interesting patterns concerning student gender and technology comfort as predictors of thought put into e-mail communication.


Lightfoot, J.M. (2006). A comparative analysis of e-mail and face-to-face communication in an educational environment. Internet and Higher Education, 9(3), 217-227. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved May 22, 2022 from .

This record was imported from Internet and Higher Education on January 29, 2019. Internet and Higher Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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