Katrina A. Meyer


This study looks at online discussions within the context of a group endeavor and attempts to evaluate three assertions: 1) students in an online discussion proceed through higher levels of thinking; 2) Online conversations follow an “ebb and flow” pattern; 3) The level of the first posting to the discussion influences the level of subsequent postings. Postings were classified by the Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives and were graphed to help analyze the assertions. There was only modest support for the first assertion and better support for the second and third assertions. Analyzing online discussions as a group endeavor may well prove an interesting area of research for those interested in applying the existing body of literature and theory on group discussions in the face-to-face arena to the online environment. Researchers need to evaluate whether this literature is applicable to online discussions and what distinctions can legitimately be made between group discussions in the face-to-face or online mode.


Online learning,evaluation of online discussions,group discussion,Bloom’s taxonomy

Full Text:



Meyer, K. A. Evaluating Online Discussions: Four Different Frames of Analysis. The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 8 (2): April 2004. Available online:

Meyer, K. A. Face-to-Face Versus Threaded Discussions: The Role of Time and Higher-Order Thinking. The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 7 (3): 2003. Available online:

Garrison, D. R., T. Anderson, and W. Archer. Critical Thinking, Cognitive Presence, and Computer Conferencing in Distance Education. The American Journal of Distance Education 15 (1): 7–23, 2001.

Jeong, A. C. The Sequential Analysis of Group Interaction and Critical Thinking in Online Threaded Discussions. The American Journal of Distance Education 17 (1): 25–43, 2003.

Hiltz, S. R. Evaluating the Virtual Classroom. In Harasim, L. (Ed.), Online Education, 134–184. New York: Praeger, 1990.

Newman, G., B. Webb, and C. Cochrane. A Content Analysis Method to Measure Critical Thinking in Face-to-Face and Computer Supported Group Learning. Interpersonal Computing and Technology 3 (2): 56–77, 1995.

Gunawardena, C. N., C. A. Lowe, and T. A. Anderson. Analysis of a Global Online Debate and the Development of an Interaction Analysis Model for Examining Social Construction of Knowledge in Computer Conferencing. Journal of Educational Computing Research 17 (4): 397–431, 1997.

Aviv, R. Educational Performance of ALN via Content Analysis. The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 4 (2): 53–72, 2000. Available online:

Aviv, R., Z. Erlich, G. Ravid, and A. Geva. Network Analysis of Knowledge Construction in Asynchronous Learning Networks. The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 7 (3): 2003. Available online:

Borman, E. G. Discussion and Group Methods: Theory and Practice. New York: Harper and Row, 1975.

Potter, D., and M. P. Andersen. Discussion: A Guide to Effective Practice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1970.

Smith, W. S. Group Problem Solving Through Discussion. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965.

Dewey, J. How We Think. Boston, MA: D. C. Heath & Co., 1910.

Bridges, D. Education, Democracy and Discussion. Windsor, England: NFER Publishing Co., Ltd., 1979.

Arrow, H., J. E. McGrath, and J. L. Berdahl. Small Groups as Complex Systems. New York: Sage Publications, 2000.

Mills, T. M. Group Transformation: An Analysis of a Learning Group. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Gulley, H. E. Discussion, Conference and Group Process. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., 1968.

Levin, J. A., H. Kim, and M. M. Riel. Analyzing Instructional Interactions on Electronic Message Networks. In Harasim, L.M. (Ed.), Online Education, 185–213. New York: Praeger, 1990.

Bloom, B. S., and D. R. Krathwohl. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. New York: Longmans, Green, 1956.

Anderson, L. W., and D. R. Krathwohl (Editors). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman, 2001.

Drops, G. Assessing Online Chat Sessions. Online Cl@ssroom, University of Calgary: April 2003. Available online:

Rourke, L., T. Anderson, D. R. Garrison, D. R., W. Archer. Methdological Issues in the Content Analysis of Computer Conference Transcripts. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education 12: 18–22, 2001.

Krumme, G. Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Bloom 1956), n.d. Available online:

Henri, F. Computer Conferencing and Content Analysis. In A. Kaye (Ed.), Collaborative Learning Through Computer Conferencing, 117–136. London: Springer-Verlag, 1991.


Copyright (c) 2019 Katrina A. Meyer