Linguistic Discourse Variables as Indicators of Reflective Online Interaction

Outlet Title

American Journal of Distance Education

Document Type


Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of traditionally spoken linguistic analysis approaches for understanding the nature and outcomes of online interaction. The study took place with twenty-eight elementary school teachers in ten suburban Chicago schools involved in a technology-supported, problem-based learning curriculum development effort. The asynchronous and face-to-face communications of participants were monitored to test the utility of linguistic discourse variables for understanding interaction. The evidence showed that similar sense-making and interaction strategies are used in both face-to-face and online dialogue but that the strategies were significantly more prevalent in the face-to-face than online dialogue. When critical reflection was studied as an outcome of both forms of dialogue, asynchronous electronic communication was significantly more reflective than face-to-face discourse.