North, Sarah; Coffin, Caroline and Hewings, Ann
Using exchange structure analysis to explore argument in text-based computer conferences.
International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 31(3),
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Computer conferencing provides a new site for students to develop and rehearse argumentation skills, but much remains to be learnt about how to encourage and support students in this environment. Asynchronous text-based discussion differs in significant ways from face-to-face discussion, creating a need for specially designed schemes for analysis. This paper discusses some of the problems of analysing asynchronous argumentation, and puts forward an analytical framework based on exchange structure analysis, which brings a linguistic perspective to bear on the interaction. Key features of the framework are attention to both interactive and ideational aspects of the discussion,
and the ability to track the dynamic construction of argument content. The paper outlines the framework itself, and discusses some of the findings afforded by this type of analysis, and its limitations.
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