IT Teaching Resources

Computer-mediated communication to enhance face-to-face discussions

A small study on the effects of computer-mediated communication

Article Research Promising practices

Title: The Use of Computer-Mediated Communication to Enhance Subsequent Face-to-Face Discussions
Authors: Beth Dietz-Uhler and Cathy Bishop-Clark

Key points

  • The study examines whether there were differences in perceived benefit or enjoyment from priming in-person conversations with computer-mediated communication such as internet chat or discussion posts
  • Students perceived in-person conversations that were preceded with an online conversation to be more enjoyable and contain more diverse and interesting ideas than in-person conversations without the initial priming
  • This is a smaller study n=58 where generalizability is questionable; There seems to be some significant skew within the survey results

A study assessing the effects of synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated communication on subsequent face-to-face discussions was conducted. Participants were asked to read a short article about internet censorship. Then they were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a synchronous (internet chat) group, an asynchronous (internet discussion board) group, and a control group. Both the internet chat group and the internet discussion board group engaged in an online dialog about the article they read. They then followed the on-line dialog with a face-to-face discussion. The control group had no on-line discussion but instead immediately began a face-to-face discussion. Finally, all completed a questionnaire about their experience. The results showed that face-to-face discussions preceded by either synchronous or asynchronous computer-mediated communication were perceived to be more enjoyable and include a greater diversity of perspectives than face-to-face discussions not preceded by computer-mediated communication.

What would this look like in a course?
  • Have students use discussion boards as part of their asynchronous classwork.
  • Set norms around how students should respond to the discussion board and to other classmates’ discussion board posts.

Dietz-Uhler, B., & Bishop-Clark, C. (2001). The use of computer-mediated communication to enhance subsequent face-to-face discussions. Computers in Human Behavior17(3), 269-283.