Student Participation and Interaction in Online Case-Based Discussions: Comparing Expert and Novice Facilitation

Yishi Long, Adrie A. Koehler


Discussion is an essential component in case-based learning (CBL), as it offers students the opportunity to consider diverse perspectives, clarify confusion, and construct understanding. As a facilitator bears most of the responsibility for the overall success of CBL, understanding how facilitation strategies influence interactions during discussions is worthwhile. However, previous CBL facilitation research has primarily considered student perspectives during case discussions, without examining relationships between facilitator experience and student interaction and participation. This study combined social network analysis and content analysis to compare the structure of expert and novice instructors’ discussion posts and to consider their relationship to student participation and interaction in online case discussions. Results showed that both the expert and novice instructors used facilitation strategies involving social congruence, cognitive congruence, and content expertise frequently in the discussions; however, when and how they used a combination of these strategies was noticeably different. These differences influenced student interaction. More specifically, students tended to interact with others more actively and densely as a result of questions initiated by the expert facilitator. Suggestions are provided for novice facilitators.


Instructor Facilitation, Learner Participation and Interaction, Case-based Discussions, Social Network Analysis

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