The Tutor's Role: An investigation of the power of Exchange Structure Analysis to identify different roles in CMC seminars

In IJAIED 12 (1): "Part II of the Special Issue on Analysing Educational Dialogue Interaction"

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This paper presents a method of dialogue analysis called Exchange Structure Analysis (ESA). The research question was whether ESA (a relatively easy to apply analysis of turn taking), could help to clarify differences between peer and tutor roles. If so, then it may prove useful in evaluating how effective tutors are in transferring discussion skills to their students. ESA was applied to eight one-hour Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) CHAT seminars. Using ESA, some patterns of exchange were found more frequently in some students' protocols than in others and were also associated with the role of tutor more often than with the role of peer. ESA could, thus, be used to suggest the inclusiveness of the dialogue and the distribution of active and passive exchange roles amongst participants. By further specializing ESA using just a few categories of Speech Act (moves) from the DISCOUNT scheme (Pilkington, 1999), the degree to which tutor and students swapped argument roles, such as explaining and critiquing could also be tracked. Further studies are investigating whether notifying the tutor of participant profiles from these analyses can help the tutor to facilitate discussion. Implications for student modeling and the design of Learning Companions are also discussed.