EARLI 2015

Limassol (Zypern)
European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI)
Encounter to one another? The impact of peer feedback to the connectedness of learners in online forums of higher education courses
Tobias Hölterhof

As a modern understanding of Bildung, investigations in philosophy of education foster the experience of encounter to explore human plurality (Wahlström 2010; Biesta 2002). As a way of applying these general educational issues in the realm of online communication and higher education, this empirical study considers peer feedback assignments as enabling structures of encounter. Peer feedback can initiate participation in each other’s learning process (Topping 1998; Ertmer, Richardson, Belland et al 2007) and may thereby also enable an experience of different attitudes and opinions concerning a learning matter. A social network analysis of an online master program is performed in order to identify those structures in online forums as an impact of peer feedback assignments, that require students to develop and share a personal attitude towards a topic. The findings show that online forums of courses with peer assignment cover an appropriate structure for enabling possibilities for encounter, as far as encounter occurs as personal comments in online forums. In average participants of courses with two peer assignments had contact to 3 more different persons than participants of courses without peer assignments. Certainly an atmosphere of discourse and feedback not necessary implies encounter as an anthropological phenomenon, but it may be the step towards it.

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