Males are not as active as females in online discussion: Gender differences in face-to-face and online discussion strategies

Meng-Jung Tsai, Jyh-Chong Liang, Huei-Tse Hou, Chin-Chung Tsai


This study examined the gender difference in students’ perceived discussion strategies in face-to-face and online asynchronous contexts. A survey of 363 university students and follow-up interviews of 20 participants was conducted to examine any gender differences within each context and between the two contexts. The Discussion Strategies Scale was developed to examine students’ discussion strategies for both contexts in four dimensions: comprehension, interaction, elaboration and anxiety. The results show that no gender difference was found within the face-to-face context; however, within the online asynchronous context, the females perceived themselves better than did the males regarding their elaboration strategies. Although both genders experienced less anxiety in asynchronous discussion, the males perceived themselves as having better strategies in face-to-face discussion than in asynchronous discussion and the females perceived themselves as having about the same level of sophistication in both contexts. This study provides an in-depth observation of how both genders adapt themselves to different discussion contexts. We conclude that female students adapted themselves, as strategic learners, better than the males in asynchronous learning situations in which the male students were not as active as they were in traditional face-to-face discussion contexts.


Gender difference; Online discussion strategies; Asynchronous discussion; Face-to-face discussion; Computer-supported collaborative learning; Computer-mediated communication; Online learning strategy

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