Electronic Theses and Dissertations


A Comparison of Online and Face-To-Face Discussions in an Elementary Mathematics Methods Course

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

First Advisor

Angela T. Barlow

Second Advisor

Kevin Stoltz

Third Advisor

Carol Livingston


The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine if there is a difference between online and face-to-face discussions in terms of quality of responses. The researcher analyzed discussions among teacher candidates enrolled in a web-enhanced undergraduate elementary mathematics methods course. Data was collected through surveys, audio-recordings of face-to-face discussions and asynchronous discussion board transcripts. Transcripts from online and face-to-face discussions were analyzed for evidence of critical thinking using the practical inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2001). The researcher found that discussions that utilized the asynchronous discussion board elicited more critical thinking from participants than face-to-face discussions. Also, the data revealed that the discussion prompts used to initiate discussion impacted levels of critical thinking. There was also evidence of fewer off-topic discussions during online interactions. The researcher concluded that additional research is needed to determine the impact of minimum participation expectations on teacher candidates' interactions during discussions. In addition, more research should be conducted to determine the optimal group size to foster critical thinking in both face-to-face and online discussions.

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