Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reconciling differences between technologically and socially focused theories of group communication
by Dahl, Raymond Alexander, M.S., The University of Utah, 2013, 81; 1550600
Abstract (Summary)

In today's highly mediated society it is very likely that communication technologies will be utilized for group interactions. Questions regarding how groups interact and how modalities of interaction factor into effectiveness, affinity, productivity and satisfaction abound. Scholarship in this area is broadly approached from technologically deterministic perspectives and social constructionist perspectives. The reality is that neither perspective is completely accurate and any argument that relies solely on technology or group dynamic as the determining variable will have failings. This thesis explores the middle ground, acknowledging that both communication mode and group construction are factors when assessing communication quality. In order to understand the interplay between group dynamics and mediated interaction, study participants were selected from undergraduate communication courses where group assignments are a regular part of the curriculum. The study participants were allowed to work on the assigned tasks in an unstructured setting. After completion of the tasks the students were surveyed to discover how the groups organized and interacted, with a focus on determining types of interaction, satisfaction and perceived efficiency. Participant groups chose face-to-face as their preferred form of interaction (58.33%) with email the second most frequently used (34.95%). Part of the study addresses the question of conscious selection of interaction method and the correlation with outcome satisfaction, interaction satisfaction and perceived interaction effectiveness. Groups that made active decisions on how to interact showed a significant correlation with both outcome and interaction satisfaction, while groups that interacted based simply on the preferences of the group only reported having interactive satisfaction. The results of this study lend support to both the basic tenants of media richness theory and technology deterministic theories. The primary conclusion of this thesis is that interaction based on conscious decisions by the group result in a higher level of interaction and outcome satisfaction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Elliott, Norm
Commitee: Van Buren, Cassandra, Yaros, Ron
School: The University of Utah
Department: Communication
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: MAI 52/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication
Keywords: Hci, Interaction, Media, Mediation, Rich-media, Technology
Publication Number: 1550600
ISBN: 9781303661013
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