Evaluating Interpersonal Knowledge in Virtual Seminars

O. Diekamp (Germany)


Virtual seminars, interpersonal knowledge, computer mediated communication


Communication between learning-partners plays a crucial role in collaborative learning. Learners not only discuss individual perspectives on tasks and learning topics, they also need to coordinate their learning activities in the group. In typical computer-supported learning environments like virtual seminars, communication becomes even more complex as learners are restricted to asynchronous text-based communication. As a consequence, the understanding of interpersonal communication characteristics becomes increasingly important. One important aspect of communication is the interpersonal knowledge that learners develop about other learning partners because it has potential effects on epistemic activity and social modes of interaction. This field study evaluates the development and effects of interpersonal knowledge in a virtual seminar with 33 participants who worked together in groups of 3-5 members. Participants were asked about their skill-related knowledge and socio-emotional knowledge of other learning partners at the beginning and at the end of the virtual seminar. Results show that interpersonal knowledge generally increased during the seminar. While skill-related knowledge did not lead to more efficient interaction, socio-emotional knowledge was positively related to conflict orientated consensus building, asking task-related questions and the contribution of ideas. Both skill-related and socio-emotional knowledge was positively correlated to participants’ satisfaction and acceptance with the seminar.

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