An Investigation of How Discussion Group Composition, Discussion Topic, and Topic Expertise Affect the Quality of Online Discussion Posts
Abstract: This study examined the effects of three variables, computer skill level (low vs. high), discussion group composition (homogeneous vs. heterogeneous), and discussion topic (computer related vs. non-computer related), on students’ quality of posts in online discussions. The findings indicated that students’ level of computer skill significantly affected the quality of their discussion posts. In addition, there was a significant level of computer skill by discussion topic interaction. Students with low computer skill contributed higher quality posts when discussing a non-computer related topic while students with high computer skill contributed higher quality posts when discussing a computer related topic. Moreover, the level of computer skill also significantly interacted with discussion group composition. Students with low computer skill contributed higher quality posts in the homogeneous group while students with high computer skill made higher quality posts in the heterogeneous group.