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College of Arts & Sciences
Linguistics Program

Online texts of non -native speakers in an L2 electronic discussion forum: An analysis of social presence and cognitive presence

Butsakorn Yodkamlue

[Full text of dissertation in ProQuest]

Committee Members: Alexandra Rowe (Co-Director), Stanley Dubinsky (Co-Director), Anne Bezuidenhout, Lara Ducate


An increase of asynchronous online discussions in a non-course related context (Website) provides much opportunity for L2 learners from different global communities to be exposed to the target language at their own pace and time. However, no research looking at the essentials of social presence and cognitive presence in creating a supportive learning environment in such a context has been done. This dissertation investigated the patterns of social presence and cognitive presence in non-academic computer conferencing, specifically in a non-course related online discussion forum and compared the findings with those from six previous studies on academic online courses. It also examined the relationship between social presence and cognitive presence including the correlation of these two elements with levels of participation (number of posted messages).

Using content analysis, the data from 304 online messages within 30 topics were analyzed through Garrison, Anderson, and Archer's (2000, 2001) social and cognitive template as modified by Arnold and Ducate (2006). The findings showed that levels of social presence and cognitive presence were significantly related and supported the notion that social presence plays a significant role in sustaining cognitive presence in online discussions. The study also found a relationship between each social category and among various cognitive categories.

Additionally, the number of messages partially correlated with the levels of social presence and of cognitive presence; specifically, open communication, exploration and integration have an important role in encouraging active participation. Evidence of considerable amounts of mutual awareness and recognition of others confirmed that online participants develop interactive dialogue instead of serial monologue. These findings are consistent with those of Arnold and Ducate (2006).

Finally, the levels of cognitive presence in this study concurred with recent research conducted on academic contexts. Frequent occurrences of exploration and infrequent occurrences of resolution were found. A comparison of the degrees of social presence with those of Arnold and Ducate (2006) also yielded similar results, which indicated the infrequency of emotional expression and high levels of open communication and group cohesion. This supports the claim that building an online community facilitates the cognitive thinking process.