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Does Task Type Impact Participation? Interaction Levels and Learner Orientation in Online Discussion Activities
Vanessa Paz Dennen and Kristina Wieland

Online discussion may involve a variety of task types and, as a result, learners may perceive their audience as being their peers or their instructor. In this study, learners were asked to participate in two simultaneous discussion tasks, one focused on demonstrating knowledge (instructor audience) and the other focused on providing formative peer feedback while working on an assignment (peer orientation). Results of a participation analysis show that greater learner interaction occurred when focused on the formative peer feedback task. However, a qualitative review of the ensuing discussion archives demonstrates that peer interactions across both tasks was very much at the surface level, with little analytic discussion in the knowledge demonstration task and peer feedback that was largely cursory in nature.

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