He Said/She Said: Tracking Gender Differences in Online Academic Discussions
31 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 8, 2013
Researchers have widely documented behavioral differences between men and women in the classroom, and scholars have recently begun to probe how gender differences might also surface in online behavior and in learning outcomes. This paper tests whether and how the impersonal and asynchronous nature of open discussion threads in an online, academic website conditions students’ online "posting" activity, as well as their self-reported learning experiences. Drawing on data generated by more than 700 undergraduate students who participated in discussion-based, academic websites implemented across four semesters, I analyze survey data, as well as a sample of original posts (n=715) and students' replies to their peers (n=460), measuring features such as the length, depth, frequency, and nature of posts to determine how the online environment may (or may not) elicit different behavioral patterns among men and women.
Keywords: gender, online, discussion forum, CMC, learning, critical reflection
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