An Analysis of Faculty Promotion of Critical Thinking and Peer Interaction within Threaded Discussions

Alan Belcher, Barbara M. Hall, Kathleen Kelley, Keith L. Pressey


The purposes of the research were to (1) examine the relationships between faculty behaviors that promote critical thinking and the resulting critical thinking within peer interaction and (2) identify specific faculty behaviors that result in the highest levels of critical thinking within peer interactions. Using a concurrent embedded mixed methods approach, 19,595 peer-to-peer responses were coded along the 5-point scale of the Interaction Analysis Model (IAM) and faculty behaviors within 91 courses were reviewed for 19 different behaviors. Comparing each individual faculty behavior to the IAM scores yielded interesting results. There were six significant correlations between faculty behaviors and scores on the IAM. Two of the correlations involved “negative” faculty behaviors, perhaps suggesting that peers make up for the lack of instructor presence within discussions. Multiple considerations for discussion design and facilitation are suggested along with recommendations for future research.


Online teaching; faculty behaviors; IAM; threaded discussions

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