Student Decision-making in Small Group Online Collaboration

P. Hietala, K. Koivunen, and E. Ropo (Finland)


Innovative Teaching and Learning Technologies for Web-based Education, Positioning Theory, Online Decision-making, Asynchronous Conferencing Systems


: The study deals with decision-making through asynchronous computer mediated discussion. The theoretical framework of our study understands discussion as communication in which the students contribute to the construction of a common opinion by taking positions. Position taking is described by applying Positioning Theory dealing with student identity. In this study students were engaged in a small group discussion in an online environment in which they were required to debate on their proposals and take a vote at the end. We provide quantitative and qualitative analyses of their discussion and those issues that describe the winning proposals. The analyses in this paper show that the quality of the original proposal is indeed closely related to winning. However, our results indicate that students can influence the success of the decision process by taking an active part in the discussion. The positions the students take in the decision-making discussions seem to be first order self positions deliberately assumed by the discussants.

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