Questions, answers, participants and interactions in open asynchronous online forums for learning English
- On community question-answering (QA) sites, anyone on the open Internet can post a question, give a response, or browse a discussion. The availability of interested individuals, including content experts, implies that personalized tutoring can be crowd-sourced at no financial cost to users. Importantly, these forums maintain banks of knowledge often ranked by Internet search engines, thereby exerting influence over a wide audience. In addition, in the context of second language learning, the asynchronous format of the forums allows learners to ask questions in a low-stress environment while they attend to both language form and meaning. The current study focused on online forums that aimed at providing answers to questions from learners of English as a second or foreign language. To examine the characteristics of the questions, the participant networks, the quality of the answers, and the characteristics of the verbal interactions in the knowledge transfer and construction processes, this project conducted case studies of two QA sites with distinct differences in history and design, especially in terms of their levels of gamification and their discussion structures, and compared a sample of similar threads on the two sites. The coding schemes for answer quality and verbal interactions were developed based on the literature on information quality, and that on online collaborative learning, respectively. The most prominent strength of the sites was found to be their timeliness in delivering responses. In most cases, original questioners received answers within 24 hours. Even though the majority of the top answers offered usable conclusions and fully accurate information, a notable minority could be misleading in the sense that they seemed to allow questioners to arrive at conclusions but provided only partially accurate information. Consequently, potential users are recommended to view the information from QA sites only as one of multiple sources of information, and to further extract value by taking note of the citations the answers include. The two sites were markedly different in terms of answerer composition, likely as a result of their distinct historical roots. The study also found differences in answer characteristics, particularly in terms of accuracy and the use of references. Some interactive moves of the participants, especially the frequencies of responses, disagreement and answer revisions, appeared to be associated with the composition of the communities, gamified incentives, discussion structures, or some combination of the above. Further research is needed to identify any causal relations involved in order to better inform the design of online communities.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Fan, Lorraine Lok Yin
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Education.
|Padilla, Amado M
|Padilla, Amado M
|Statement of responsibility
|Lorraine Lok Yin Fan.
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Education.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
- © 2016 by Lok Yin Fan
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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