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Index: modules/gerd/discussions/paper/discussions.tex
diff -u modules/gerd/discussions/paper/discussions.tex:1.29 modules/gerd/discussions/paper/discussions.tex:1.30
--- modules/gerd/discussions/paper/discussions.tex:1.29 Tue Jan 3 13:27:56 2006
+++ modules/gerd/discussions/paper/discussions.tex Tue Jan 3 21:44:44 2006
@@ -30,7 +30,7 @@
\date{\today}
\begin{abstract}
-Asynchronous online student discussion entries around online homework problems in introductory physics courses
+Asynchronous online student discussions of online homework problems in introductory physics courses
are analyzed with respect to course type, student course performance, student gender, problem difficulty, and problem type. It is found that
these variables can significantly change the character of the online student collaborations.
\end{abstract}
@@ -42,11 +42,11 @@
\section{\label{sec:intro}Introduction}
Students discussing physics with their peers in-class has proven to be an effective way of teaching~\cite{mazur97}, and the practice has found
wide-spread acceptance. Using online forums, the practice can be extended outside the classroom. Over the past years, we have been using an
-online system where the threaded discussion forums are directly attached to randomizing online problems, and in spite of supporting research
-(e.g.,~\cite{wallace} for a review) are continually surprised by the
+online system where the threaded discussion forums are directly attached to randomizing online problems. Despite supporting research
+(e.g.,~\cite{wallace} for a review), we continue to be surprised by the
richness of the ensuing peer-interactions. In this study, we are attempting to systematically analyze the student discussion contributions,
in particular with respect to properties of the courses, the students, and the problems. Our goal is to first identify online discussion
-behavioral patterns of successful students, and in a next step identify the problem properties which elicit them.
+behavioral patterns of successful students, and to then identify the problem properties which elicit them.
\subsection{\label{subsec:system}The LON-CAPA Online System}
LON-CAPA started in 1992 as a system to give randomized homework to students in introductory physics courses.
@@ -64,13 +64,13 @@
the correct solution (both features could be disabled by the instructor). The system is designed to foster
communication among the learners, and asynchronous threaded discussion boards
are attached directly to the bottom of every online resource.
-For the purposes of this project, it is thus possible
+For the purposes of this project, it is therefore possible
to establish a one-to-one association between an online problems and discussions.
-Students can post anonymously or using a screenname, however, the full name is always visible to the instructors (students know this). Also, occasionally, instructors are posting to the discussion.
-Over time, competing discussion sites developed outside of LON-CAPA, which are completely anonymous and not visited by instructors. Kashy~\cite{kashy03} found that the use of the internal discussion sites is positively correlated to course grades and FCI scores, while the use of the external sites is negatively correlated to these scores.
+Students can post anonymously or using a screenname, however, the full name is always visible to the instructors (students know this). Also, occasionally, instructors post to the discussion.
+Over time, competing discussion sites developed outside of LON-CAPA, which are completely anonymous and are not visited by instructors. Kashy~\cite{kashy03} found that the use of the internal discussion sites is positively correlated to course grades and FCI scores, while the use of the external sites is negatively correlated to these scores.
-In addition, LON-CAPA keeps statistical data for every problem, which allows to associate problems with their
+In addition, LON-CAPA keeps statistical data for every problem, which allows instructors to associate problems with their
degree of difficulty.
\subsection{\label{subsec:courses}Courses}
Discussions from three courses at Michigan State University were analyzed, namely, the first semester of
@@ -84,12 +84,12 @@
scale without ``curving," and student collaboration was explicitly encouraged. Homework contributed to less
than 20 percent to the final grade.
-In the first-semester algebra-based course, a total of 134 online problems with 1367 associated discussion
-contributions were analyzed,
-as well as 215 problems with 1078 discussion contributions and 148 problems with 949
-discussion contributions in the first and second semester of the calculus-based course, respectively.
+In the first semester of the algebra-based course, a total of 134 online problems with 1367 associated discussion
+contributions were analyzed. For the first and second semester of the calculus-based course,
+215 problems with 1078 discussion contributions and 148 problems with 949
+discussion contributions were analyzed, respectively.
-In addition, within the first semester calculus-based course (enrollment: 211 students (82 men, 129 women)), discussions were analyzed by student.
+In addition, within the first semester calculus-based course (enrollment: 211 students (82 men, 129 women)), discussion characteristics were correlated to student characteristics.
\section{\label{sec:method}Methodology}
\subsection{\label{subsec:problemcat}Problem Classification}
@@ -123,7 +123,7 @@
\item[Ranking-tasks] This type of problem requires a student to rank a number of statements, scenarios, or objects with respect to a certain feature. For example, a student might be asked to rank a number of projectiles in the order that they will hit the ground, or a number of locations in order of the strength of their local electric potential.
\item[Context-based reasoning problems] The distinguishing characteristic of these problems is that they are set in the context of real-world scenarios and not in the context of the artificial ``zero-friction" laboratory scenarios of typical textbook problems.
-As in the case of ``representation-translation," ``context-based-reasoning" in this project will be considered a feature, which may apply or may not apply to any of the other problem types.
+As in the case of ``representation-translation," ``context-based-reasoning" in this project will be considered a feature, which may or may not apply to any of the other problem types.
\item[Estimation problems], also known as ``Fermi Problems," require the student to form a model for a scenario, and make reasonable assumptions. A typical example is ``How many barbers are there in Chicago?" or ``How long will I have to wait to find a parking spot?" Students do need to explain their reasoning.
While students find it initially hard to believe that these problems have anything to do with physics, hardly any expert physicist would deny their significance in learning how to solve problems~\cite{mazur96}.
@@ -173,7 +173,7 @@
\item[Emotional] - discussion contributions were classified as ``emotional" if they mostly communicated opinions,
complaints, gratitude, feelings, etc. Two subtypes were ``positive" and ``negative."
\item[Surface] - discussion contributions were classified as ``surface" if they dealt with surface features of the
-problem or where surface level requests for help. Two subtypes were ``question" and ``answer."
+problem or were surface level requests for help. Two subtypes were ``question" and ``answer."
\item[Procedural] - contributions that describe or inquire about a mechanisms to solve the problem without
mention of the underlying concepts or reasoning. Two subtypes were ``question" and ``answer."
\item[Conceptual] - contributions that deal with the underlying concepts of the problem. Two subtypes were
@@ -422,7 +422,7 @@
\caption{\label{fig:discussionexample}Example of a standard numerical homework problem and associated discussion}
\end{figure*}
-\section{Results of Analysis by Student}
+\section{Results of Analysis by Student Characteristics}
\subsection{Participation}
\begin{figure*}
\includegraphics[width=160mm]{KortemeyerFig4}% Here is how to import EPS art
@@ -452,18 +452,19 @@
138 students (65 percent) contributed at least one discussion posting over the course of the semester. Figure~\ref{fig:contribBinned} shows the distribution
of number of discussion contributions over the course of the semester. Most students who participated made between one and ten contributions, but one student made
66 postings.
-It is not possible to find out which percentage students {\it read} the discussions, since it is automatically attached to the problems and always visible.
+It is not possible to find out which percentage of students {\it read} the discussions, since they are automatically attached to the problems and always visible.
The average number of postings per student was $5\pm0.7$;
female students contributed an average of $5.9\pm1$ postings, while male students contributed an average of $3.7\pm0.7$ postings.
\subsection{Grade-Dependence of Discussion Contributions\label{subsec:gradedep}}
The average grade in the course was $3.21\pm0.05$, with men and women achieving equally high grades (men: $3.29\pm0.08$; women: $3.17\pm0.05$).
In terms of absolute
-numbers, within statistical errors, students with high and low grades in the course participated equally in the discussions. The positive correlation between participation in the
-this ``moderated'' discussion forum and course grades found in~\cite{kashy03} could not be confirmed in this study.
+numbers, within statistical errors, students with high and low grades in the course participated equally in the discussions. A positive correlation between the participation in
+this ``moderated'' discussion forum and the student course grade, as it was found in~\cite{kashy03}, could not be confirmed in this study.
\begin{figure}
\includegraphics[width=86mm]{KortemeyerFig5}% Here is how to import EPS art
\caption{\label{fig:gradecorrel}Prominance of discussion superclasses by grade.}
\end{figure}
+
While the {\it number} of postings is uncorrelated to course grade, their {\it classification}
(subsection~\ref{subsec:disccat}) is correlated.
In this analysis, the percentage prominance of certain classes
@@ -583,7 +584,7 @@
\item discussions in the algebra-based course had a significantly higher emotional
climate (6$\pm$1 versus 2$\pm$1)
\item the algebra-based course had a higher prominence of ``chat'' (21$\pm$2\% versus 11$\pm$1\% (first semester) and 14$\pm$2\% (second semester))
-\item physics-related discussion were significantly higher in the calculus-based course (28$\pm$2\% (first semester) and 23$\pm$2\% (second semester)) versus 17$\pm$2\% in the algebra-based course.
+\item physics-related discussions were significantly higher in the calculus-based course (28$\pm$2\% (first semester) and 23$\pm$2\% (second semester)) versus 17$\pm$2\% in the algebra-based course.
\item conceptual-discussions were significantly higher in the first semester of the calculus-based course (12$\pm$2\% (calculus, first semester) versus 6$\pm$2\% (algebra)), but this difference vanished in the second semester (7$\pm$1\% (calculus, second semester)).
\end{itemize}
Especially the last observation is discouraging, since as the students in the calculus-based course progressed further into their study of physics, the degree to which they were discussing concepts
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