Use of the Bales Model for Analysis of Small Group Communications in Computer-based Asynchronous Conferences

P.J. Fahy (Canada)


Distance education, online interaction analysis, transcript analysis, online networks, CMC, networked interaction


Examination of online, text-based interaction in computer conferences (CMC), for patterns and processes first detected in the early 1950s in face-to-face groups, showed some similarities, and several differences. Online interaction resembled communication in small face-to face groups in that members who sent the most messages tended to receive the most, and those who posted the fewest messages (Q1) tended to post more to individuals than to the group. The key differences were: Q1members addressed fewer messages to the top participants (Q4) than had been true in face-to-face encounters; messages to the whole group were much rarer in CMC than those addressed to specific individuals (attributable in part to the practice in CMC of linking responses to specific messages); Q4 members (the participation leaders of the group) did not differ from other groups in their interactions, except for engaging in more of them; and students' attempts at initiating new topics or directions were commonly ignored by the group, while instructors' leads almost never were.

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