The Effect of Structured Divergent Prompts on Knowledge Construction

Ginger Sue Howell, Autumn Sutherlin, Usen Akpanudo, Laura James, Mengyi Chen


Discussion forums are a widely used activity in online courses. However, knowledge construction within online discussion rarely reaches higher levels. Therefore, it is important to understand which aspects of online discussion encourage learning and increase knowledge construction. This paper investigates the effect three Structured Divergent prompts (playground prompts, brainstorm prompts, and focal prompts) have on knowledge construction as compared to Convergent prompts. Participants (N=58) were required to post in an online discussion thread during a graduate education course at a private university. The Interaction Analysis Model was used to determine the levels of knowledge construction demonstrated within students’ posts. The posts were given a score using the following codes: 0-no post/no understandable post; 1-sharing information, 2-disagreeing; 3-negotiation of meaning; 4-testing co-construction; 5-agreement of the constructed meaning. The analysis revealed that two of the three Structured Divergent prompts (focal and brainstorm) yielded significantly higher levels of knowledge construction as compared to Convergent prompts.


Knowledge Construction, IAM, Structured Divergent Prompts, Online Discussion

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