Learner support and discovery in a virtual non-judgmental environment

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

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Authors

Andrew Boon

Abstract

This thesis is a qualitative case study that draws upon a grounded genre analysis approach situated within the social constructivist paradigm. The study describes the various obligatory, desired, and optional moves used by post-graduate students as they interacted within an online, non-judgmental environment in order to seek solutions to issues they were experiencing with their research projects or teaching. The postgraduate students or case participants met individually online with me at pre-arranged times to take part in Instant Messenger Cooperative Development (IMCD) (Boon, 2005) 30-minute to one hour sessions via the text-chat function of Skype. Participants took on the role of ‘Explorer’ in order to articulate their thoughts and ideas about their research. I took on the role of ‘Understander’ to provide support to each Explorer by reflecting my understanding of the ongoing articulations as the Explorers investigated their specific issues, determined possible ways to overcome them, made new discoveries, and formulated plans of action regarding the best way for them to move forward.
The description of generic moves covers 32 IMCD sessions collected over a threeyear period (2009-2012) from 10 different participants (A-J). Data collected is drawn from live IMCD sessions, field notes, and post-session email feedback from participants.
In particular, the thesis focuses on describing the specific generic moves of Explorers within IMCD sessions as they seek satisfactory resolutions to particular research or pedagogic puzzles. It also provides a detailed description of a longitudinal case (Participant A – four sessions), a one-session case (Participant B – one session), and an outlier case in which the Explorer underwent a negative IMCD experience.
The thesis concludes by arguing that IMCD is a highly effective tool that helps facilitate the research process for both distance-learning and on-campus students and has the potential to be utilized across all disciplines at the tertiary level.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date6 Oct 2015

    Keywords

  • case study, computer-mediated communication, genre analysis, non-judgmental discourse, research process

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