An examination of interactional coherence in email use in elementary school

Van der Meij, Hans; de Vries, Bregje; Boersma, Kerst; Pieters, Jules and Wegerif, Rupert (2005). An examination of interactional coherence in email use in elementary school. Computers in Human Behavior, 21(3) pp. 417–439.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2004.10.002

Abstract

This paper reports on a study of email use in elementary school. An analytic model consisting of a contextual, rhetorical and semantic dimension is proposed as a means to measure interactional coherence. In describing this CRS-model special attention is given to the dialogue types distinguished by Burbules (1993) [Dialogue in teaching: Theory and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press] and to other research that seeks to qualify and quantify computer mediated communication. Findings from the empirical study indicate, among others, that a pivotal role is played by the turn-taking pattern. In addition, there were signs that the children compensated for some of the limitations of communicating by computer (e.g., by using meta-tags). The study also indicates a predominant usage of email for conducting dialogues as conversations. The conclusion suggests that contextual factors are important in qualifying and quantifying interactions. This suggestion is further strengthened by the fact that Burbules’ typology partly hinges on getting to know the attitudes of the conversational partners and hence lie beyond what an analysis of the dialogues themselves can reveal.

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