A Discourse Analysis of Interaction In Distance Education Courses: Dissonance Between Theory and Application?

by Ramsey, David S.

Abstract (Summary)
In theory, the pedagogical role of the distance education (DE) instructor is often presented-indeed, promoted-as being that of a facilitator, encouraging and leading student interaction via written communication, rather than a lecturer, with a one-way mode of instruction. The online context has often been lauded as a place where students are given the opportunity and incentive to make new meaning through interaction with their peers. However, in my experience with University of Maryland University College (UMUC), Asia over the past four years, I have overheard numerous instances of traditional students: (1) encouraging their peers to take online courses because of the lack of difficulty or (2) discouraging their peers from taking online courses due to the lack of interaction. Additionally, my experience in the UMUC Asia context over the past four years has allowed me to encounter, primarily through informal faculty office conversations, similarly discouraging assertions among some faculty, who contend that DE courses are essentially independent-study tasks, with a lack of interaction; that they are not fun or engaging when compared to their traditional courses; and that, in their view, the DE context lacks academic integrity. Therefore, this dissertation employs a rubric, designed by M.D. Roblyer and W.R. Wiencke, and a Discourse Analysis Tool (DAT), designed by Allan Jeong, to determine the amounts and types of interaction occurring in selected University of Maryland University College (UMUC) distance education courses. The discourse analysis focuses on three sections of a lower-level undergraduate course (ENGL 101: Introduction to Writing) and three sections of an upper-level undergraduate course (ENGL 391: Advanced Expository and Research Writing) from Term III (out of five terms) in years 2000, 2002, and 2004. Based on the two types of discourse analysis, it was determined that several of the courses presented a one-way delivery of information; that the instructors were not facilitators, guiding the interaction as it occurs or encouraging it to occur beyond initial writing prompts/requirements; that the lower-division courses had less engagement than the upper-division courses; and that several of the courses employed numerous rhetorical modes.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Miami University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:distance education interaction online pedagogy discourse analysis university of maryland college rubric


Date of Publication:04/30/2009

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