The effect of social grounding on collaboration in a computer-mediated small group discussion

Terence C. Ahern, Julie A. Thomas, Mary K. Tallent-Runnels, William Y. Lan, Sandra Cooper, Xiaoming Lu, Jacqui Cyrus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


There is a tremendous amount of pressure on educators to incorporate highly advanced computer-mediated communication (CMC) into the classroom, but the research shows that this is not an easy task. Part of the difficulty learners experience within current network applications is a lack of support from the design of the software for the development of a common ground. This paper reports on a study of how a group of online students used a software application specifically designed to mediate a threaded discussion. Results of the study show that properly designed software had a significant impact on the creation and maintenance of the common ground necessary to create and foster a community of talk. Nonetheless, the data also shows that specialized software is not enough. An important factor in using online interaction well is for the teacher to closely monitor students online. These two factors, suitably designed software that is appropriately implemented, are closely related and will result in optimum experience for students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalInternet and Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Social coherence
  • Software engineering
  • Threaded discussion


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