InProceedings of the 8th International Conference of the Learning Sciences 2008
This paper describes an innovative approach to analyze the progression of dialogue in asynchronous online forums. Although schemes analyzing the content of individual messages exist, they fail to capture the subtle relationships between messages that constitute progressive discourse for knowledge building. We present a group-level discourse analysis based on cultural-historical activity theory that characterizes the unfolding collaborative learning and knowledge construction processes in context. The application of the mixed-method approach is illustrated in the context of two online graduate courses. The analysis highlights connected sequences of discursive actions that multiple students make to advance shared understanding. The mechanics of the approach offered in this paper can be used as an analytic and transformative tool for enhancing online learning, research, and instruction.