Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Analysis of Problem-Solving-Based Online Asynchronous Discussion Pattern

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Analysis of Problem-Solving-Based Online Asynchronous Discussion Pattern

Article excerpt


This research explores the process of asynchronous problem-solving-based discussion activities and aims to understand limitations likely to arise during learners' problem-solving discussions. The research has combined lag-sequential analysis and quantitative content analysis, and expects to use such analyzing methods to further understand the sequential pattern of students' problem-solving discussion behaviors and knowledge-construction levels. In order to avoid influence caused by teachers' subjective guiding methods and ensure objective observations, we observed learners' online problem-solving discussions without intervention or guidance from the teachers. From the sequential pattern derived, we have not only induced a pattern of students' discussion behavior but also discovered that, compared to discussion activity based on a single topic appointed by the teacher, the problem-solving online discussion activity is more helpful for students' knowledge construction. In addition, this research also revealed certain limitations toward the content and behavior of students' discussion without teachers' guidance. Based on the results, this paper proposes a strategy in which teachers can intervene and guide, which is expected to enhance the depth of students' discussion and knowledge construction when a teacher is applying a problem-based learning activity.


Problem solving, Asynchronous discussion, Knowledge construction, Problem-based learning, Sequential analysis


Over recent years, the application of a problem-solving strategy for learning has become progressively more popular, and problem-solving models have been discussed extensively (Mayer, 1992; D'Zurilla & Goldfried, 1971). Through problem-based learning, students can raise questions, collect information, discuss with each other, propose solutions, and share results, which further trains students for problem solving. Due to the development of learning technology, teachers' request for students' asynchronous online discussion has been extensively applied in actual learning scenarios, and many researchers have also explored the benefits of asynchronous discussion toward learning (Vonderwell, 2003; Bodzin & Park, 2000; Henri, 1992). In view of this, the combination of online discussion and problem-solving activities can establish a problem-solving-based online discussion learning activity. Within the activity, teachers can define the scope of the problem and allow students to raise various questions among themselves. After that, students can collect information from the Internet and discuss possible solutions on the Internet, as well as share their solutions. This encourages students to solve various problems and construct their knowledge. During the process, teachers will provide adequate guidance to improve the quality of students' discussion.

Many researchers have discovered that the design of online discussion activities imposes great influence on the quality of online discussion (Patricia & Dabbagh, 2005; Hewitt, 2003; Vonderwell, 2003; Swan et al., 2000; Vrasidas & McIsaac, 1999). In order to design more suitable problem-solving online discussion activities, adequate guidance from teachers and strategies for intervention are key; furthermore, the exploration of how teachers shall diagnose learners' discussion status and post suitable articles, which guide students to solve the problems correctly and utilize more effective problem-solving skills, will be an important topic that is worth researching and will help improve achievement of problem-solving learning. To address this aspect, the observation of learners' discussion processes is helpful to understand the limitation of students' discussion, and a systematic guiding strategy can be inferred. At present, the research that executes behavior process analysis, particularly against the process of problem-solving discussion, is rather limited. …

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