TitleDevelopment of a structural approach to the study of computer-mediated communication via online discussion boards
NameDalelio, Corinne (author), Mokros, Hartmut (chair), Aakhus, Mark (internal member), Katz, James (internal member), Kubey, Robert (internal member), Cockett, Lynn (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectCommunication, Information and Library Studies,
Electronic discussion groups
DescriptionTo address the research question, "How can the processes of computer-mediated communication be analyzed, described and understood through a natural history, microanalytic, structural approach?" a new analytical instrument that systematically examines the structural properties of CMC via asynchronous online discussion boards is presented. In this approach, the sequence of participant activity within discussion board threads, and the references that allow inferences about who or what a specific message points back to, are mapped in varying ways.
In this method, posts, or messages submitted at one time, are understood as meaningful acts that serve as building blocks of the communicative structure within a discussion board thread, or post set. Posts are mapped according to their order of occurrence in order to learn more about how posting activity occurs within a post set. Posts are also linked to one another by reference cues, or highly reliable indicators of whom or what they are addressing. Two posts linked by a reference cue are referred to as a post pair, and post pairs are grouped into chains based on posts they share in common. This allows for the creation of new maps that represent a more meaningful account of participation, highlighting features of referencing activity in a post set. Several types of visualizations are presented, allowing for the observation and comparison of non-obvious features of communication in post sets.
The developed method is demonstrated and tested through the analysis of data from discussion boards in two distinct research settings: a college course website, and a fan site for the television series Lost. Features of posting activity and referencing activity are compared between and within these two data sets. Posting approaches are identified by observing individual differences in participation within and across post sets.
The method was found to successfully capture participation in the observed post sets. A majority of posts were involved in referencing activity, which was found to be indicative of interaction. The features of, and constitutive possibilities for, communication in the observed research settings are described and outlined. Suggestions for future research are made based on the discoveries of the present analysis.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 213-221)
Noteby Corinne M. Dalelio
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.