Publication Details

Jahng, N., Chan, E. KH. & Nielsen, W. S. (2010). Collaborative learning in an online course: A comparison of communication patterns in small and whole group activities. The Journal of Distance Education, 24 (2), 39-58.


This article reports on the investigation of collaborative learning processes in an online course that examined students' communication during whole-group discussions and small-group activities. Content analysis and social network analysis methods were employed to code and categorize text messages to uncover students' communication behaviour. The results show that individuals' participation patterns were similar during the two different settings, but some inactive students during whole-group discussions were more active in small-groups. The social-out (sent-out messages) during whole-group discussions was a significant variable associated with cognitive contributions in whole-group as well as social and managerial contributions in small-group activities. It also identified three indexes, i.e., quantity, equality, shareness, that can be used as quantitative measures for evaluating small group collaboration.

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