Student Roles and Positions in Web Discussions

P. Hietala, K. Koivunen, and E. Ropo (Finland)


Webbased Education, Collaborative Learning, Positioning Theory, Moderating a Web Discussion


In this paper we studied how the predetermined roles assigned for the students affect their discussion behavior in Web discussions of seminar type. In the analysis we utilized Positioning Theory which is an attempt to understand the dynamics of human relationships within a social constructivist paradigm. Our results from an undergraduate course show that our students were active in all three roles available for them: most active as moderators, and almost as active as commentators. However, student positionings differ in the two roles. Moderators’ situational positionings can be characterized as teacher positionings. Commentators on the contrary, take positionings that are more autobiographical. Typical for those positionings is that they express personal experiences and opinions. The positions can in most cases be classified as first-order positionings.

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