Interaction Analysis – Part 2

As a learning scientist with a Psychology and English background rather than a Computer Science one, I find the Suthers’ et al. (2010) article a little bit difficult to digest at times. It’s conceptually dense and sophisticated, so it is not exactly easy reading for a sleep-deprived academic mom, but it’s pretty rewarding. I wish I had read this literature when I was trying to analyze the discourse data for my dissertation.

In an attempt to trace how the discourse developed, I did examine Jordan & Henderson (1995) and Barab, Hay, & Yamagata-Lynch’s (2001) action relevant episodes (AREs). In fact, my early meetings with Chris on the design of assessment tools were inspired by these other articles. I wanted to explore ways to capture the development of concepts over time in the discourse (intersubjective) and the development of a particular individual over time (intrasubjective), so the work by Suthers and colleagues would have been useful.

Their research would also have been a good to reference in the conclusions section in my thesis. I speculate about graphical representations in addition to threaded discussion environments for knowledge building discourse. At the time, I was focused on how representations could help students understand the difference between facts and explanations in order to make progress in the group discourse. Suthers, Vatrapu, Medina, Joseph, & Dwyer (2008) suggest that when students use representations, “knowledge maps,” they create more hypotheses and elaborate on them more than students using threaded discussion. I wonder how representations would affect students use of information, i.e. facts? I also speculated about how wikis might be used as a site to collect facts, but it would be interesting to find out what the different environments would be good for and not so good for…


Barab, S. A., Hay, K.E., & Yamagata-Lynch, L.C. (2001). Constructing networks of action-relevant episodes: An in situ research methodology. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(1&2), 63-112.
Jordan, B., & Henderson, A. (1995) Interaction analysis: Foundations and practice. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 4(1), 39-103.
Suthers, D. D., Vatrapu, R., Medina, R., Joseph, S., & Dwyer, N. (2008). Beyond threaded discussion: Representational guidance in asynchronous collaborative learning environments. Computers & Education, 50(4), 1103-1127.
Suthers, D. D., Dwyer, N., Medina, R., & Vatrapu, R. (2010). A framework for conceptualizing, representing, and analyzing distributed interaction. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 5(1), 5-42.


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