Exploring the Relationship Between Interaction and the Structure of Questions in Online Discussions Using Learning Analytics

Ayesha Sadaf 1  and Larisa Olesova 2
  • 1 University of North Carolina Charlotte,
  • 2 George Mason University, , United States of America


While research has established the importance of questions as a key strategy used to facilitate student interaction in online discussions, there is a need to explore how the structure of questions influence students’ interactions. Using learning analytics, we explored the relationship between student-student interaction and the structure of initial questions with and without the Practical Inquiry Model (PIM). Degree centrality was used as the method to analyse the number of responses each student sent (out-degree centrality) and the number of responses each student received (in-degree centrality). Findings showed that the number of responses each student sent and received was higher in the discussions initiated by the PIM-question prompts. In addition, analysis revealed a positive relationship between students’ interaction and the discussions structured with PIM and non-PIM questions. Finally, there was a significant difference in out-degree centrality but no significant difference in in-degree centrality between discussions structured with the PIM and non-PIM questions. We conclude that initial questions can be structured using PIM as a guiding framework to facilitate student-student interaction in online discussions.

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