UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Cheak, Michelle
Thesis (M.A.) (Instructional Design & Technology) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Tan, Seng Chee
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

Computer mediated communications has been instrumental in learners' knowledge building process by facilitating critical thinking. The increased use of online discussions as a pedagogical tool has raised concerns of how the online discussion can be improved with greater participation and interaction among learners. This study explored the use of a role playing strategy in an online discussion environment with the objective of evaluating its impact in the area of participation and interaction among learners. Four pre-determined roles were introduced: coordinator, devil's advocate, energiser and summariser. It was reported that characteristics of these four roles would coalesce to form a well functioning discussion group. A quantitative descriptive analysis was conducted on the content of the discussion that took place in the online environment. In addition to looking at the impact the roles had on the level of participation, and the amount of role execution by the different role players, other behavioural patterns and trends were also noted. Results of the study revealed positive influences role playing had on interaction as well as the significance of each role. To achieve an in-depth critical discussion of the topic, it would be essential for all participants to be contributing their ideas and executing their roles throughout the discussion periods. However, execution of the four pre-determined roles would have varying significance at different stages in the discussion.

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