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World Forum Communications: Analyses of Student and Mentor Interactions


National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology,


This study analyzed new forms of student social interaction and dialogue within asynchronous communications of six middle schools and six high schools participating in the World Forum. In the World Forum, students discussed, questioned, and debated with Arctic explorers, researchers, World Forum mentors, and peers about environmental issues. One of the three key tasks, Flash Points, generated more lengthy dialogue than other techniques (i.e., Arctic Alerts and Questions to Explorers). Analysis of the forms of assistance provided students indicated that mentor interactions with students was mainly to provide feedback, question, and cognitively structure the lesson or activity; minimal instruction or modeling of how to interact occurred. Few student questions about environmental issues or exploratory activities were of an evaluative or analytical nature, but instead, most were fact or knowledge-based. Despite the minimal assistance and low-level of questioning, student role taking activities within their environmental discussions (students assumed roles of famous people such as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Leakey) enhanced the degree of perspective taking in their conversations. Examining the interaction patterns, forms of mentor assistance, level of questioning, and degree of perspective taking provided new insights into the impact of electronic communication on student learning, but additional assessment techniques are still needed. Four tables illustrate data. An appendix lists a sample of character roles played by some World Forum participants. (Contains 56 references.) (Author/MAS)


Sugar, W.A. & Bonk, C.J. (1995). World Forum Communications: Analyses of Student and Mentor Interactions. Presented at National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology 1995. Retrieved October 21, 2020 from .

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