Why birds of a feather flock together: Factors triaging students in online forums

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Peer effects, an influence that peers can have on one's learning and development, have been shown to affect student achievement and attitudes. A large-scale analysis of social influences in digital online interactions showed that students interact in online university forums with peers of similar performance. Mechanisms driving this observed similarity remain unclear. To shed light as to why similar peers interact online, the current study examined the role of organizing factors in the formation of similarity patterns in online university forums, using four-years of forum interaction data of a university cohort. In the study, experiments randomized the timing of student activity, relationship between student activity levels within specific courses, and relationship between student activity and performance. Analysis suggests that similarity between students interacting online is shaped by implications of the course design on individual student behaviour, less so by social processes of selection. Social selection may drive observed similarity in later years of student experience, but its role is relatively small compared to other factors. The results highlight the need to consider what social influences are enacted by the course design and technological scaffolding of learner behaviour in online interactions, towards diversifying student social influences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLAK 2021 Conference Proceedings - The Impact we Make
Subtitle of host publicationThe Contributions of Learning Analytics to Learning, 11th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages469-474
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781450389358
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event11th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge: The Impact we Make: The Contributions of Learning Analytics to Learning, LAK 2021 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: 12 Apr 202116 Apr 2021

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series

Conference

Conference11th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge: The Impact we Make: The Contributions of Learning Analytics to Learning, LAK 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online
Period12/04/2116/04/21

Keywords

  • Communication networks
  • Course design
  • Digital learning
  • Learning analytics
  • Student activity
  • University forums

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