Towards understanding online learning levels of engagement using the SQUAD approach to CMC discourse

  • Peter K. Oriogun London Metropolitan University


Recent research in content analysis has shown the difficulties of achieving acceptable levels of inter-rater reliability with CMC transcripts. This has lead to the development of semi-structured computer conferencing systems, in which participants choose the type of contribution that they are making from a limited set of alternatives. This article extends previous work with respect to semi-structured approaches to online discourse, suggesting coding categories relevant for problem based learning. The SQUAD approach to online discourse offers definitions for quality with respect to participation, interaction and cognition, when using the message as the unit of CMC transcript analysis, analysing for what the author has termed as ‘online learning levels of engagement’. It is argued that the theoretical basis underpinning the SQUAD approach is beneficial for the development of teamwork and cognitive reasoning when learning in small groups, and that it is a relatively straightforward exercise to apply this approach in a different mode of study or subject area.


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