Monday 4 November 2013

Paper Review: Students’ use of asynchronous discussions for academic discourse socialization

Beckett, G. H., Amaro-Jiménez, C., & Beckett, K. S. (2010). Students’ use of asynchronous discussions for academic discourse socialization. Distance Education, 31(3), 315–335.  

Summary: This paper addresses two research questions:
  1. What are multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-level Teaching English as Second Language (TESL) master’s and doctoral students’ perceptions of Online Asynchronous Discussion (OAD) in general and why?
  2. What do multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-level TESL master’s and doctoral students use OADs for and how?
The research was conducted using qualitative techniques at a large mid-western University in USA between 2003 and 2007. Purposeful sampling was used to choose a sample of 13 students and one faculty member. Following findings are reported:

  • Students’ perceptions of OAD:
    • OADs are great but not helpful for improving writing.
    • Disappointed, demotivated and frustrated by lack of participation and guidelines.
  • Participants viewed the OADs as virtual communities of practice for language socialization and as opportunities to learn the languages and cultures of the academic and professional communities that they were part of  by engaging with more knowledgeable and experienced others such as their professors as well as their more experienced peers.
  • Academic discourse socialization was done by all members of the virtual community in various forms.
 The paper has concluded by drawing implications for further research and practice.

Assessment:
Primarily done as a qualitative research, this paper reports findings on students’ use of asynchronous discussions for academic discourse socialization. Since the sample size is small (13), the findings perhaps would not be generalizable but still provide a starting point in right direction.

Reflection:
Online Asynchronous Discussion (OAD) is a critical component in online learning to foster learner-learner and learner-instructor interaction. Viewing its use for academic discourse socialization is a next step in valuing its importance. Further research would be needed to validate these findings.

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