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Design, implementation and testing of a visual discussion forum to address new post bias

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
One challenge of using asynchronous online discussions in educational settings is that students have a tendency to read only new posts and reply to just the most recent ones. This has a variety of negative consequences for learning through discussions. In this thesis, I used information visualization techniques to design a visual discussion forum interface and studied students’ behaviours using this visual forum as compared to a traditional text-based linear forum. A hyperbolic tree, which presents the higher-level posts with bigger nodes, was used to present the structure of the discussion. In the visual forum, students (re)read higher-level posts before their new replies. Additionally, students more actively selected which threads to read as compared to the text-based forum. Students’ pointed out the visual design and layout as one of the most useful features of the interface. However, students’ feedback raised concerns about some interface features that should be investigated further.
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Copyright is held by the author.
The author granted permission for the file to be printed and for the text to be copied and pasted.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: wise, Alyssa
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etd7089_FMarbouti.pdf 8.46 MB

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