Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Effect of Coordination and Common Ground in Online Discussion: A Comparison of Interactive Processes in Chat vs. Electronic Bulletin Boards
by Oaks, D'Arcy John, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2007, 147; 10835945
Abstract (Summary)

Aspects of mutual understanding—joint action, coordination, and common ground—were examined in an online pedagogical problem-solving setting, with mutual understanding, task satisfaction, and satisfaction with group processes serving as outcome variables.

The study employed a 2 (chat, threaded discussion) x 2 (communication coordination intervention, no communication coordination training) x 2 (common ground intervention, no common ground intervention) between-persons design. Communication coordination and common ground, two parts of Clark's conception of mutual understanding (1996), are examined in an educational collaborative setting. Two common computer-mediated communication tools, chat and electronic bulletin boards, were employed.

The three constructs (common ground, communication coordination, communication mode) are examined in relationship to each other and their relationship to task satisfaction, group processes satisfaction, and mutual understanding. One hundred fifty-six participants interacted in groups of three concerning a controversial social-issue task, homosexual marriage. Communication coordination was manipulated with a short training session. Common ground was manipulated through a short “get-to-know-you” session.

Multilevel analysis of the 2 x 2 x 2 design revealed that communication coordination failed to have the intended effect. Multilevel analysis of the 2 (chat, threaded discussion) x 2 (common ground intervention, no common ground intervention) indicated a main effect for mode on task satisfaction, with threaded discussion groups ranking significantly higher than chat groups. The familiarity intervention had a main effect on satisfaction with group processes. An interaction between familiarity and communication mode was found for satisfaction with group processes. While participants in the chat groups reported greater satisfaction from the familiarity intervention, participants in the threaded-discussion groups reported lesser satisfaction following the familiarity intervention.

Together these findings suggest that chat is a more conducive medium for friendly, social discussions and prior familiarity improve the satisfaction with human interactions. However, compared to threaded-discussion, chat was not as effective for task satisfaction. Threaded-discussion, on the other hand seems to work well for completing the task, though, its deficiencies in provided affordances for social interactions were apparent from the ratings.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: David, Prabu
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Communication
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Multimedia Communications
Keywords: Affordances, Collaboration, Common ground, Coordination, Distance education, Mutual understanding
Publication Number: 10835945
ISBN: 978-0-355-97084-5
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