Reading Between the Lines: Understanding the role of latent content in the analysis of online asynchronous discussions

Murphy, Elizabeth and Rodriguez-Manzanares, Maria A. (2005) Reading Between the Lines: Understanding the role of latent content in the analysis of online asynchronous discussions. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2 (6). ISSN 1550-6908

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This paper reports on an exploratory case study related to analysis of an OAD (online asynchronous discussion) that focuses both on manifest content and latent content. The purpose of the study was to explore the role of latent content, or individuals' intentions and motives, in providing insight into the behaviors of participants in an OAD. Participants were ten graduate students who used an online discussion designed for engagement in Problem Formulation and Resolution (PFR). The transcripts of the discussion were analyzed using an instrument with two categories, five processes and nineteen indicators. In addition, interviews with all participants were conducted at the end of discussion. Analysis of latent content provided additional insight into participants' behaviors in the discussion. In some cases, it confirmed results from analysis of manifest content, such as participants' emphasis on solutions. The focus on latent content also uncovered why they engaged in certain behaviors more than others, for example why they did not engage in critiquing other participants' solutions. Analysis of latent content also offered insight into participants' different ways of conceptualizing the solution process, and their emphasis on use of experience. In other cases, analysis of latent content did not further explain participants' behaviors. Limitations of the approach used to analyzing latent content are presented.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 2464
Keywords: online asynchronous discussions, content analysis, distance learning, latent content, problem solving
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: June 2005
Date Type: Publication
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