Discourse indicators of culture in online courses
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This study examined the electronic discourse in an online course to investigate if culture exhibited itself in the communication of students. The researcher also sought to find out if a third culture was built in this course and if so, what design features facilitated the emergence of this third culture. A graduate-level online course at a Southwestern university was examined in a case study. Computer-mediated discourse analysis was used as the method. The students were administered an online demographic survey to collect information about their background. The online communication of the students, the instructor, and the assistants were analyzed. A semantic analysis matrix was developed based on the pilot study that was used to investigate the content of the messages posted in the discussion conferences. The results showed that culture did not exhibit itself in the discourse. A third culture, however, was formed by the students. The discourse characteristics of this third culture are producing timely and intelligent comments and equal levels of participation; use of materials from both cultures; constant interaction among participants; creating a side conversation between two different cultures; a common discourse accent; words, expressions, acronyms created in the course; curiosity, sensitivity, openness towards otherness, critical engagement with others; and ability to understand and tolerate different perspectives and cultural phenomena. The design features of the particular online course were discussed. The design features that may have helped create a third culture among students are face-to-face meetings and introductions conference in the course; instructor’s teaching strategies such as creating expectations for participation and her scaffolding and mentoring throughout the course; and features of the course communication platform such as the ability to embellish the thoughts through the use of fonts, colors, and quoting.
Subjectcomputer-mediated discourse analysis
online course design
Gazi, Yakut (2007). Discourse indicators of culture in online courses. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from