What is your Social Persona?

Reaction to:

Yu et al. When students want to stand out: Discourse moves in online classroom discussions that reflect students’ needs for distinctiveness.

What motivates graduate students to participate in online class discussions? To understand graduate students’ discourse moves, Yu et al. offer two constructs, uniqueness-seeking and optimal distinctiveness, to understand students’ interactions in online discussions. They referenced three previous research studies:
1.) Learners need to adapt to learning in the digital world, especially now when learners have to adjust to learning online. In Lin et. al. study, the researchers explore the impact of CMD (Computer-mediated Devices) on learning. Based on Herzeg’s study, he concludes that “the language of CMD is expressed in a less formal register (or a less formal manner); the interactions are without the benefit of extra-linguistic cues (or nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, hand movements, or tone), and a sense of community may be fostered. CMD provides the opportunity for equal participation, but that does not always happen. Therefore, I propose that the instructor needs to promote a more democratic discussion by stating guidelines so that a few students do not dominate the entire conversation.

2.) Researchers have identified “three patterns of conversation” in online discussions and note that these patterns are “social, fluid, and recognized.” One model is “the metaphor of identity-as-difference,” and the other metaphor is “identity-as-position.” From these perspectives, the students form a “social presence.”

3.) From this online persona, Yu et al. draw upon the research of Synder and Fromkin on “uniqueness-seeking needs” and Brower on “optimal distinctiveness” where individuals have to balance the needs to be unique with the need to conform, to strike a balance between “differentiation and affiliation.”

From there, Yu et al. present their research questions: “How do students uniqueness-seeking needs relate to the different discourse moves they exhibit in online discussions? What does a comparison of discourse moves and feelings about the online discussion (enjoyment and engagement) across the semester reveal about the students with different uniqueness-seeking needs?” In terms of methodology, they used a “discourse analytic approach and comparison coding” and a “modified case study.” They collected data by analyzing the transcripts of the 13 graduate students and had them complete surveys at the beginning and the end of the year. The researchers had the students rate their uniqueness from low, moderate, to more than moderate. In terms of Results, the researchers provided the Comparison Codes in Appendix B, in which they categorized the types of discourse moves as either social or cognitive. They also described social personas such as the cheerleader, the moderator, the topic initiator, and the personal connector.

After providing an extensive Data and Results section, they offered a Discussion and Implication section that one conclusion is that students with higher uniqueness needs tend to make more cognitive moves than social moves. For students with low uniqueness needs, there was a small gap between social and cognitive moves.

After reading Yu et al.’s research study, I have questions regarding their initial research questions, such as are “uniqueness needs,” the reason for graduate students to participate in online discussions. Did the researchers consider intrinsic and extrinsic motivations? Based on the surveys, some of the graduate students were interested in seeking clarification on confusing parts of a reading assignment. They may have an intrinsic motivation of wanting to learn the material, especially if the readings relate to their dissertations. They also want a good grade in the class, which may motivate them to participate in online discussions. What about the role of the professor? Does he value more cognitive or social moves? Did the professor communicate the academic expectations communicated to the students at the beginning of the course? One would expect that on a graduate-level course, the professors would expect some cognitive moves during an online discussion. Professors set the tone and expectations for the class. Did the professor facilitate the online discussion groups? Did he check in with them at the beginning, middle, and end of the course?

Nonetheless, I found Yu et al.’s research study useful for my purposes in that students need to be engaged while participating in an online discussion. They need to find the material intellectually stimulating and to internalize the information to keep them engaged. Make the information relevant to them and their intellectual interests. Also, it is equally essential for students to make cognitive and social moves. Yes, both cognitive and social. In an intellectual setting, cognitive contributions are helpful, but so are social moves. Why social moves? By making personal connections to the materials, especially during online learning, one can gain a deeper understanding of the material when internalize or connecting the information to themselves. As for uniqueness-needs: Some students may have a desire to stand out to gain an award, a research grant, or a recommendation.

Uniqueness vs. Similarity, Comments on Yu et al.

I thought this was a very interesting article. In some ways I tried to liken my various experiences with what was being discussed and with the data shown, as I’ve both taken online classes and have existed in many online communities in the past and do so now. I will admit that the density of findings and discussion on the results became a lot to take in, but I will attempt to give a reasonable description of the article nonetheless.

Yu begins in relating the purpose of the study, which is to attempt to place a preexisting psychological term, uniqueness-seeking, into the ways students interact within online course settings. Yu offers several terms which we see throughout the study, beginning with optimal distinctiveness, which is the most balanced state between uniqueness and similarity achievable for online participants. It is then how this uniqueness-seeking interacts with the discourse of an online course transpires which makes up the research here. If uniqueness-seeking is the conceptual basis for the research, it is computer-mediated discussion or CMD which makes up the mode of study for Yu. It is likely that most people understand inherently the properties of online discussion forums, but for consideration’s sake it is always helpful to explicitly consider them. As it is, those properties are the less formal language often used online, the lack of “extra-linguistic cues” found in face-to-face interactions, and the community fostered in those contexts. I find that last one particularly interesting to think about. One quality of the generation of a thing is how it does so in the face on any restrictions which may be put upon it. In considering that an online forum for academic discourse would be something created in the absence of some parts of what constitutes a typical interaction (tone, facial cues, physical community), CMD creates something unique.

Yu then discusses social identities and communities within the bounds of these discussion forums. Concepts like self-identity become important when there is more of a freedom to present yourself differently than you would necessarily be forced to face-to-face. This is to say that your identifying traits, your gender, ethnicity, etc., are optional parts of your online identity as opposed to necessary parts of your in-person identity (from others’ perceptions). What this affords is a different kind of what Short et al. calls social presence. Social presence being the importance derived from interpersonal interactions comes through in this setting more as a chosen level of participation rather than a compulsory one, as the setting is one of CMD.

The following section of the research goes more into the distinctions found in social identity, but also how those distinctions come together all the same. The two forces of “assimilation to and differentiation from others” make up social identity, according to M. Brewer. For Yu’s research, this point holds some significance. It is this very assimilation and differentiation which creates the trend of social uniqueness which will be spoken to later in the article. For now, social identity is more generally defined as being related to what level of personal affect is shown in online interactions and makes up a large part of enjoyment in the class as well as what is taken away by the student.

The method which Yu uses for this research is a case study. 13 graduate-level students were surveyed at the end of each class and their transcripts collected, as well as their having pre/post-course survey taken speaking to a perceived uniqueness scale. The specific method for the case study involved breaking down the group of participants into pairs, determined by similar levels of contribution to the discussion for class. The method of coding the data involved the construction of certain “moves” within the parameters of the research question. These moves were categorized as social, cognitive, and moderator. Further, social moves denoted instances wherein the participants related themselves as being real people and shared personal experiences, cognitive moves denoted instances of meaning constructed from interactions between participants, and moderator moves denoted instances of participants managing online experiences. All discussions were transcribed, and so the researchers formatted the data found in the transcriptions as “coherence graphs” which connected chronologically connected conversations the students had based on what messages related to each other topically.

The following section includes a quite lengthy, though perhaps thorough is a more fair way of putting it, description of the findings for each pair of students. I’ll admit that my effort reading through the findings and annotating them became a touch muddled after a certain point, but the final section of discussion and implications was clearer. What Yu indicates as to their findings is that there was a variety of uniqueness-seeking among the participants. Despite the variety, there existed a general trend of those different levels either remaining about the same throughout the semester or decreasing. Yu also states that cognitive moves were on average the most commonly seen codes found within the data. And as with any good research, a concluding openness to the findings and concerns for the research were offered. That the researchers can’t generalize findings with such a small grouping, some potential ESL restrictions, a high academic proficiency at the graduate level and how that may impact findings, unknown differences between people with prior understanding of material or none, that students in the study also met face-to-face in another class, these were all listed concerns.

As I mentioned initially about this article, I did enjoy it. I will say that for me at least, there was a certain density here which I think precluded my completely absorbing it all, but I believe discussing it in class will help with that. People having different personalities does of course affect the ways in which they interact typically, but how those interactions are further altered or how they are diminished in an online setting was something I enjoyed reading about. One potential contributor of how a student may take to online academics from where I’m coming from is comfort in online communities from the onset. The setting may be outside of the research, but how comfortable a student is in typical online discussion patterns may also change how they interact.

Discourse Moves

As the development of technology continues to progress apace, educational institutions are increasingly adopting online contexts for teaching and learning asserted, learners in today’s technology-saturated world need to develop strategies and skills to undertake new literacy activities in which technologies and the Internet play a crucial role.”

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This article was assigned at a period of time in our lives. I’ve always found it interesting how assignments have been assigned to us in months advance, but somehow the world changes around us based on the given assignment. In this unfortunate case, COVID-19 happened, which has resulting in many of my classmates to sit behind our computer screens in the comfort of our own homes. Also, we are suspected to change our whole approach to learning overnight.

I find it completly ironic how we, the I find it completely ironic how we, the generation of technology and social media don’t receive the full experience of virtual learning then we would in the classroom. This is the result of being a millennial–someone born between 1980 until 1997. We were around when technology was born, however, we still enjoyed being outside, being home “when the street lights came on”, and actually have face to face conversations.

By having virtual learning, it limits the ability of the full learning experience then someone would in a classroom setting. I don’t speak for everyone, but for myself, I strongly prefer to have classes in person where I’ll be able to absorb my classmates’ responses and my professors’ lessons. 

Computers in Human Behaviors


The base of this article is discusses the phenomenon of online classroom discussion surrounded around these two proposed research questions: (a)How do students’ uniqueness – seeking needa relatae to the different discource moves they exhibit in online discussion? (b) What does a comparison of dicource moves and feelings about the online discussion (enjoyment and engagment) across the semester reveal about students withdiffrent uniqness – seeking needs? The research was conducted through 13 graduate – level students, in the setting of an onlince clasroom. The groups were broken up into 4 subgropus catogorized as: Group 1 (high contributors), Groiup 2 (mid contributors), Group 3 (low contributors), and a special case. The data was drawn using the discource anaalytic approach and constant comparison coding.


This article was very helpful to my own research interest! As far as I can see, there is reall a gap in literatuer for this article (again, not a true professional). This article was simplistic in a term that I was able to follow along while also making my own mental ties. This article has a lot of relevence to it, espically now that under these curcumstances, students are pratically glued to their screens! But any who, I enjoyed reading this article.

Turing Theory into Practice: Making Connects!

I recall in the early stages of the semester when Dr. Nelson explained how articles embed (non technical terms) within articles can ultimately help us in our own research inquiries. Quietly honestly, I had no idea what the was talking about. But now, approximately 3 classes away from this semester being over… I get it! I plan use this article (and others embed into it) to finish off my last couple of articles needed for my Research Proposal. Another takeaway from this article is the formatting I would like to go with within discussing my literature review. The Background literature in this particular article was laid out very simplistic and easy to follow. I like to format my scholarly work in way that is simplistic for not all, but most to understand!

Choose Your Method: A Comparison of Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis, and Grounded Theory.

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Qualitative research is a type of social science research that collects and works with non-numerical data and that seeks to interpret meaning from this data that help understand social life through the study of targeted populations or places. People often frame it in opposition to quantitative research, which uses numerical data to identify large-scale trends and employs statistical operations to determine causal and correlative relationships between variables. This type of research has long appealed to social scientists because it allows the researchers to investigate the meanings people attribute to their behavior, actions, and interactions with others. Qualitative research is designed to reveal the meaning that informs the action or outcomes that are typically measured by quantitative research. But this type of research is not just prevalent in the social sciences. As we learn from this article qualitative research and its methods are now commonly used in our health care systems. Qualitative researchers have made significant contributions to health services and policy (HSP) research, providing valuable insights into the ways we conceptualize health, illness, patients’ experiences, the dynamics of inter professional teams and many aspects of care delivery. Qualitative methodologies, such as grounded theory, ethnography, and phenomenology, are now regularly employed to pursue a variety of HSP topics. Qualitative researchers investigate meanings, interpretations, symbols, and the processes and relations of social life. What this type of research produces is descriptive data that the researcher must then interpret using rigorous and systematic methods of transcribing, coding, and analysis of trends and themes. Methods of qualitative research include:

  • observation and immersion
  • interviews
  • open-ended surveys
  • focus groups
  • content analysis of visual and textual materials
  • oral history
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The chart labeled Figure 1 introduces us to the similarities and differences between Phenomenology, Grounded Theory and Discourse Analysis. Figure 1 is in an hour glass like shape which outlines the history, philosophy, goals, analytic methods, audience and products of each method. It’s a clear and cohesive chart that does a excellent job of highlighting the key differences and similarities between each method. In this article Starks and Trinidad compare and contrast all three methods. They also state in regards to Figure 1:

Phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory are the products of different intellectual traditions. However, their coevolution in the history of ideas means that the boundaries between them are porous. This is depicted in the figure by the vertical dotted lines that separate the three approaches. In what follows, we provide a brief summary of the intellectual lineage and basic value commitments of phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory.” (Starks; Trinidad, 2007).

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So lets start with the fundamentals of each methodology which we all have discussed, studied and presented in class. Phenomenology is an approach to qualitative research that focuses on the commonality of a lived experience within a particular group. The fundamental goal of the approach is to arrive at a description of the nature of the particular phenomenon. In its most basic form, phenomenology attempts to create conditions for the objective study of topics usually regarded as subjective: consciousness and the content of conscious experiences such as judgments, perceptions, and emotions. It seeks through systematic reflection to determine the essential properties and structures of experience. 

The phenomenological perspective is nicely captured in a remark attributed to Einstein that expresses the difference between embodied time and chronologic time: Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute, That’s relativity.” (Starks; Trinidad, 2007).

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Discourse analysis is a research method for studying written or spoken language in relation to its social context. It aims to understand how language is used in real life situations. Whereas other areas of language study might focus on individual parts of language such as words and phrases (grammar) or the pieces that make up words. Discourse analysis looks at a running conversation involving a speaker and listener (or a writer’s text and its reader). In discourse analysis, the context of a conversation is taken into account as well as what’s being said. This context may include a social and cultural framework, including the location of a speaker at the time of the discourse, as well as nonverbal cues such as body language, and, in the case of textual communication, it may also include images and symbols. 

“Careful analysis of language, using what Gee (2005) has described as the seven “building tasks” of language (significance, activities, identities, relationships, politics, connections, and sign systems and knowledge), can shed light on the creation and maintenance of social norms, the construction of personal and group identities, and the negotiation of social and political interaction.” (Starks; Trinidad, 2007).

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Grounded theory is a research methodology that results in the production of a theory that explains patterns in data, and that predicts what social scientists might expect to find in similar data sets. When practicing this popular social science method, a researcher begins with a set of data, either qualitative or quantitative, then identifies patterns, trends, and relationships among the data. Based on these, the researcher constructs a theory that is “grounded” in the data itself. This research method differs from the traditional approach to science, which begins with a theory and the seeks to test it through the scientific method. As such, grounded theory can be described as an inductive method, or a form of inductive reasoning.

Grounded theory examines the six “Cs: of social processes (causes, contexts, contingencies, consequences, covariances, and conditions) to understand the patterns and relationships among these elements.” (Strauss; Corbin, 1998).

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The next section of the article is about The Approaches and Methods of each methodology and how they compare and contrast. When each is employed as a research method, differences emerge with respect to how the researchers frame research questions, sample participants, and collect data.

Framing the Research Question. Phenomenologists ask questions about lived experiences, as contrasted with abstract interpretations of experience or opinions about them. (Van Manen, 1990). Discourse analysts explore how knowledge, meaning, identities, and social goods are negotiated and constructed through language-in-use. Grounded theorists inquire about how social structural and processes influence how things are accomplished through a given set of social interactions.

Sampling. Phenomenologists are interested in common features of the lived experience. Data from only a few participants who have experienced the phenomenon-and who can provide a detailed account of their experience. Typical sample sizes for phenomenological studies range from 1 to 10 persons. With Discourse Analysis sampling different groups that participate within a given discourse can illuminate the ways in which participants appeal to external discourses and identity their influence on the discourse under study. The sizes depends on analytic objective and the data source. Grounded Theory relies on theoretical sampling, which involves recruiting participants with differing experiences of the phenomenon so as to explore dimensions of the social processes under study. The researcher continues to add individuals to the sample until she reaches theoretical saturation. Typical grounded theory studies report sample sizes ranging from 10 to 60 persons.

Data Collection. In all three approaches data collection strategies can use a mix of observation, interviews, and close reading of texts. In phenomenology observation of how participants live in their environment through time and space provides cues about how they might embody meaning. For discourse analysis observing participants speech provides insight about how the participants use language to accomplish their goals and position themselves in relation to others. Interviews are an important component of qualitative research data collection. In a phenomenological or grounded theory study the objective of the interview is to elicit the participant’s story. Both researcher and participant assume that their words will be understood as spoken and intended, in essence their words will speak for themselves. However, in discourse analysis the objective of the interview is to capture the participants language, including any references or appeals to other discourses. In discourse it is not assumed that the researcher and participant necessarily mean the same thing when they use the same words. In this context words are not assumed to speak for themselves.

When it comes to Analytic Methods all three methods are fairly similar. All three interpretive methods distill textual data to a set of categories or concepts from which the final product can be drawn. Coding Van Manen (1990) stated: “that phenomenological analysis is primarily a writing exercise, as it is through the process of writing and rewriting that the researcher can distill meaning.” Analysts use writing to compose a story that captures the important elements of the lived experience. By the end of this story the reader should feel that he or she has experienced the phenomenon under study and should be able to envision themselves coming to similar conclusions about what it means. In discourse analysis the objective is to understand what people are doing with their language in a given situation. So coding the coding phase entails identifying themes and roles as signified through their language use. Gee (2005) described the analytic process as one of searching for textual evidence to show how language accomplishes the seven building tasks. Grounded theory involves a constant comparison method of both coding and analyzing data through three stages: open coding, axial coding, and selective coding.

The Role of the Analyst is very important in qualitative analysis. The researcher is the instrument for analysis. The researcher makes all the judgements about coding, categorizing, decontextualizing and decontextualizing the data. Each of the approaches has its own techniques for monitoring, documenting, and evaluating the analytic process and the researcher’s role to assure the validity and trustworthiness.

Audience and Product the products of research will vary based not only on the analytic approach but also on how far the analyst carries the interpretations of the findings. Phenomenological analyses produce thematic descriptions that provide insight into the meaning of the lived experience. It is often written out as anecdotes or thematic stories. Audiences for these analysis include clinicians and others whose practice would be enhanced by understanding how individuals live through and make sense of a particular experience. The products of discourse analysis use evidence from participants narratives and other texts to expose the ways in which people use language to accomplish their objectives; as such, discourse analysis often have a pragmatic aim and require more analytical abstraction. This audience usually includes clinicians, interventionists, and policy makers. They use discourse analysis to understand how framing and language can help achieve a desired outcome. Although the goal of grounded theory analysis is to produce theory, some analysts only identify patterns within and between categories. Audiences for grounded theories include clinicians, practitioners, and researchers who are interested in designing interventions to support engaged in social processes explained by the theory.

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The last part of the research article details how researchers applied the three approaches to a Single Data Set. I won’t go to far into details for the conclusion because there is a detailed chart and three brief data sets that are there to help us compare and contrast the methodologies. I’m also excited to see what Kevin has to present for us on Monday. I hope to gain more knowledge and insight into this article through his presentation and his break down of it. It’s always nice to hear my fellow cohorts interpretations and perspectives on each article. We all are unique learners with a distinct voice and each one of us brings new insights and ideas to everything we have read and presented on so far this semester. So I will just briefly explain the premise. An interview study with 25 primary care physicians (PCPs) that explored their use of informed decision making (IDM) in the context of prostate cancer screening. Table 1 summarizes the differences with respect to the purpose, research questions and audience. This table is helpful in dissecting the data and information gathered from all three approaches. Phenomenology: PCPs Lived Experience of Decision Making Under Uncertainty: The analysis reveals aspects of PCPs lived experiences of decision making under uncertainty. The product of the research is a thematic description of the common elements of the experience. The audience in this case includes other physicians who can use this to make sense of their own difficulties with decision making under stress and uncertainty. How The Discourses of Medicine and Public Health Constructs Doctor-Patient Roles and Identities. Examining how PCPs and how they talk and converse with their patients about prostate cancer screenings reveals which discourses they and their patients bring to the encounter as well as what other factors in the conversation trigger use of one preferred discourse over another. This analysis can help in understanding how discourse in medicine and public health can help or hinder the IDM techniques used by PCPs. The audience for this is great for medical educators to help PCPs asses patients assumptions and expectations and address these in conversations that warrant informed decision making. Last but not least: Grounded Theory: Making the Most of the Visit: The goal of this analysis is to develop a theory that explains what circumstances lead to prostate cancer screening discussions in primary care settings. Also how and why doctors and patients engage in these discussions. The six C’s are used to discover the conditions that shape the clinical encounter between doctor and patient. In the IDM study we learned that many factors affected whether and how PCPs discuss prostate cancer screening. First limitation was tight appointment times and scheduling. Patients expectations were also a factor to consider in prostate cancer screening discussions. PCPs were more likely to engage in an involved conversation with a patient if the patient had not already made up their minds about whether to be screened. In these cases doctors were trying hard to meet their patients needs, offering information, expert advice, and ways for their patients to weigh the pros and cons of screening and their future treatment plan. In grounded theory analysis what is seen to be most important is making the most of the visit. The audience that can benefit from this finding is clinic directors and others with an interest in promoting informed decision making around cancer screenings.

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Overall I enjoyed reading and analyzing this article. I did my best to present and highlight the most important facts. I thought learning about the three different methods was important for us as a class especially at this stage in the game. We are all about to embark on our final research proposal projects. While some of us will continue on even further in the research field (not me). For the final article to be a compare and contrast of three methodologies that we already studied was great. I think its safe to say we can all use a refresher. It can only be a benefit to us and our own research endeavors going forward. Reading this furthered our knowledge and understanding into each of the three methods and how we can apply them to our own proposals if we so choose. I gained new insights about my own proposal. I also learned more about phenomenology and how it applies to my personal research. I embedded three videos below which I think give a great overview of each method we studied in this article. As I said before, it never hurts to have a refresher on the methods. Hope it helps and good luck to everyone on their final proposals! Yay our final blog! We did it guys! Xo

“When students want to stand out: Discourse moves in online classroom discussion that reflects students’ needs for distinctiveness.”

This study is an extension of previous research on uniqueness-seeking theory by Snyder & Fromkin, 1980. Li Tang Yu and other researchers wanted to explore how students with different needs for obtaining uniqueness engaged in online classroom discussions and how students would approach, create, handle, and add to the discourse when interacting in these online discussions.

The below explanation helped me understand what “uniqueness seeking needs” meant:

“Because individuals are said to fluctuate between wanting to belong and wanting to stand out and be recognized for their unique contribution to a group, Kreiner, Hollensbe, and Sheep (2006) suggested that one’s need to be unique is likely to affect identity work, which in turn seems essential to the internalization of academic discourse (Duff, 2010)”

This article sheds light on today’s world, especially now during the pandemic, when we are increasingly adopting online contexts for teaching. Computer-mediated discussion (CMD) is a classroom practice many researchers are exploring; here are three unique features of CMD:

(1) the language of CMD is less formal in written language
(2) interactions reflect the fact that they happens “without the benefit of extra-linguistic cues” (p. 4) such as gender and identity
(3) a sense of community is varying in degree in such contexts

Not everyone agrees; Zhang finds that some students can dominate an online forum based on the disadvantages of a particular class, gender, race/ ethnicity. I focalized on this point because this is very true for in-class and online forums. Students who are well-spoken, outgoing, and of a certain race and gender always outshine shy children coming from more reserved families. I remember this year, when we were in school, we were told to select students to take part in a social-emotional seminar. I choose students who weren’t very expressive, over the students who still would benefit from the workshop but were very outspoken. I didn’t want the vocal children to outshine the timid students.

In online classrooms, students project their identities and feel the presence of others, “thus creating communities with norms and conventions, with social presence originating from learners’ interactions” (Gunawardena, 1995). Which is very real, on my google classroom forum, students have become comfortable with communicating with each other. Pointing out my earlier point, even the most modest kids are more comfortable expressing their thoughts online, through jokes and emoticons.

The literature review section is phenomenal. Yu cites about twenty or more researchers but also ties it together beautifully. It is easy to understand and also gives a lot of background information that is vital in understanding her research. I liked her literature review far better than how it was written in Ferenz’s piece. I do think her downfall was not providing many definitions for specific areas of her research.

The research conducted on 13 graduate students (11 women and 2 men). Why is it that every research we read, most participants are always women? Maybe there should be a research study on that. The students were divided into two groups, where they participated in online discussions for two weeks. Yu used a case study approach to collect data. She paired individuals based on how much they contributed to discussions and on their uniqueness seeking needs. The data focused on eight of the 13 participants. Scales and charts were used to collect data.
The data was clear as day, I always assumed doing a case study has to be difficult, combining both quantitative and qualitative data, but Yu presented it well.

This research made me think about my students while they are participating in online classes due to the pandemic. It’s an unusual shift; the students who are usually outgoing and talkative have just been submitting work without any communication. On the other hand, the students who would never converse in class are participating more in the online discussion forums. Most of my non-vocal kids are also non-native speakers, so it’s interesting to see their levels of uniqueness- seeking needs. But what causes such a shift? It also makes me wonder if you, Dr. Nelson, have seen a change through our online classes?

Besides discourse, this topic made me think about social media. We all present ourselves on social media according to how we want people to view us. In a sense, we want to be different, and we want to use that difference to get fame, free things, money. It’s the people who have a higher level of uniqueness seeking who are really excelling on social media platforms.

The best part of reading many research topics is learning existing theories and applying them to my own experiences.

Works Cited

Yu, et als. “When Students Want to Stand Out: Discourse Moves in Online Classroom Discussion that Reflect Students’ Needs for Distinctiveness.” Computers in Human Behavior 58 (2016): 1-11.

Aiming to comprehend “When Students Want to Stand Out: Discourse moves in online classroom discussion that reflect students’ needs for distinctiveness”

This article is about a study done on 13 students and understanding their levels of uniqueness- seeking needs. Per Google, Need for uniqueness (a) is a psychological state in which individuals feel indistinguishable from others and (b) motivates compensatory acts to reestablish a sense of uniqueness. Three studies demonstrate that a strive for uniqueness motivates individuals to resist majority influence. These researchers from the University of Texas, wanted to understand the discourse (communication) in online discussions, whether the students will vacillate (waver between opinions;indecisiveness). Some people naturally stand out, blend in or become neutral in classroom discussions. The purpose of the study is to question your levels of uniqueness and what the student thinks about themselves. Due to being online, your physical appearance isn’t seem to make a first impression therefore personalities are  tested. These 13 students are of the graduate level, from 4 different countries, and are a mixed group meeting 3 hrs a week. The results helped the researchers to recognize and categorize the students who were qualified as having a more moderate (MM), moderate (M) and low (L) outcomes.

Having read this article twice and analyzing the table, I was still confused based on the readings lack of clarity. There are a few things that bother me with this article. I understand the purpose of uniqueness-seeking but what about clearly defining the keywords: uniqueness-seeking, optimal distinctiveness, computer-mediated discussion, case comparison and social and cognitive presence. It’s possible the researchers define these words but not for those unfamiliar with the terminology. Optimal distinctiveness is a social psychological theory seeking to understand in-group,out-group differences. It asserts that individuals desire to attain an optimal balance of inclusion and distinctiveness within and between social groups and situations. Computer-mediated discussion groups can help establish a community of learners in large lecture classes. The case comparison is one of the most useful, if technical, tools in a legal writer’s toolbox. … A legal writer using a case comparison demonstrates that the facts and reasoning of a precedential case should (or should not) produce a specific outcome in the present case. Cognitive presence is the extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication. Social presence is defined as the ability of learners to project themselves socially and effectively into a community of inquiry.  If these keywords were defined then I wouldn’t spend some time researching them and placing my new understandings throughout this study.

My next concern is about the culture. The study was done with 4 different countries. The U.S is known for being somewhat pushy in our mannerisms, views, roles and a number of things compared to other countries. Germany, not that I have much knowledge of it but I will assume that they’re second to the U.S. behavior. The Asian culture is known for having a level of respect and maintaining a voice but in a different culture manner. Have the researchers taken that into consideration, especially since one of the researchers is of Asian decent. If so, then how come that wasn’t clear? Sometimes these simple things makes a difference, especially about (self) uniqueness.

Once we mention culture then we must consider gender roles. I’m not aiming to sound sexist but that can effect this study. Gender play a significant role in other countries. In the U.S. we rally for gender equality but that may not be the case in Germany, South Korea or Taiwan. Some women are second to men. If the study involves men, particularly during the face to face sessions, couldn’t that be a problem? Even if the students attend school in the U.S., we mentioned the countries they represent for a reason, right?

My last concern with this article is psychological issues. What if someone has an inferior complex or esteem and etc. Having anxiety, OCD, or anything else can make a person react or test differently.

I don’t think this is a bad article, I just wasn’t a fan of the set up. I think knowing there are more things to consider, my perception of this is fuzzy. The mini test in the Appendix A. made more sense. I felt more at ease reading that and knowing how I would answer but more importantly that was what the students’ responded to.

Discourse Moves In Online Classroom Discussion that Reflect Students’ Needs for Distinctiveness.

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I thought it was fitting that the topic of research is about discourse in an online learning environment. Due to the pandemic all of us are being forced to participate in online classes each week until the semester ends and maybe even longer into September. I actually found myself feeling uneasy and ambivalent about the idea of conducting our classes online. But I most definitely understand the need for it in these uncertain times. I just feel like the online learning experience is nothing like IRL (in real life). There is no comparison in my opinion. I want to hear, feel, touch and absorb everything I’m learning in person. I also want to hear, feel, and touch my classmates, well not literally touch them but you know what I mean. I need the in vivo, in person connection that I feel is so valuable in our academic learning experiences. Engaging in discourse through a computer screen takes away the realness, the closeness and the connection for me. When I reflect on this article and it’s findings I wonder how my own identity and personality changes, conforms or adapts to my discourse in the online classroom environment. Honestly I found myself feeling shy and more reserved during my first few online classes. I felt unsure and not confident enough to speak up like I normally do in person while in the classroom. Strangely my insecurity was at a all time high with the prospect of having to engage in online learning and classroom chats. I thought reading this article at this particular moment in time was really useful for me in relating my own experiences with its findings and seeing what the results have to say about other students experiences in their discourse within online learning. In this study, the researchers use both quantitative and qualitative approaches to evaluating uniqueness-seeking and its relation to posts made in an online academic environment. A modified case methodology was used. Eight students were selected from 13 graduate students enrolled in a course entitled “Discourse Practices.” A modified case methodology was utilized. The students’ responses were coded for cognitive and social cues. Qualitative analysis was based on the researchers’ analyses of coded data. Quantitative analyses came into play when researchers utilized numerical systems such as scales and charts to collect and present results. The study measured graduate students’ levels of uniqueness seeking and explored whether and how students with various needs for uniqueness performed in online classroom discussions for a meaningful exchange. The researchers state: “A unique feature of our methodology was to use “cross-case studies” by grouping participants within the same level of amount of contribution to the CMC discussion but who represented different levels of uniqueness-seeking needs.” So this allowed them to compare and contrast both within and across different groups. The coding system they used was strong in my opinion and proved to give salient and valid results. I also liked the use of the graphs and tables. As you know I cringe at the sight of charts and such but in this article I found them to be clear and concise. It added to my overall understanding of the findings. I liked in particular Appendix A and Appendix B. I also thought Table 2 and Table 3 were both very useful in helping me to breakdown the uniqueness seeking groupings, ratings and data.

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I had never heard of the term uniqueness-seeking until I read this article so I wanted to dig deeper so I put my researcher goggles on and got to work! See I’m really trying my best to embrace research and its various methodologies. I’m slowly learning more as I go along on this journey. I wanted to learn more about what uniqueness- seeking means because it is a central theme in this research study and I was intrigued. This is some of what I found. Uniqueness theory explains that extremely high perceived similarity between self and others evokes negative emotional reactions and causes uniqueness seeking behavior. Uniqueness involves a person’s distinctiveness in relation to other people. Such uniqueness can reflect actual behaviors or a person’s perceptions regarding his or her differences. People can vary in the degree to which they want such distinctiveness, with some being highly desirous of specialness (high need for uniqueness) and others who do not want to stand out from other people (low need for uniqueness). Brewer, M. B. (1991) This helped me gain a better understanding of the term and how it relates to the students and their identities. Brewer was also a key figure who was mentioned in this study. When I apply this to myself, I think about the statements I made in my introduction about my hesitation to participate in our online classes. I would consider myself a low need for uniqueness type of person. I believe that has to do with my older age and not really caring what people think about me these days. Another important factor that puts me in the low need for uniqueness category is my graduate school status and experience level. At this stage in the game for me personally I don’t feel the need to have to prove myself or the need to be seen. Through my better understanding of uniqueness seeking theory I can now see how it applies to me personally. in an online environment. I also see how it applies to the students who were researched in terms of their discourse practices and online interactions with each other.

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The results showed that students had differing levels and needs for being unique. Most students’ uniqueness-seeking needs fell between low and slightly above moderate, and generally remained stable or decreased across the semester. The only exception was the student Dee, who, by the end of semester, had increased her need for uniqueness seeking. Important was the findings that the different codes used in 16, 17 and 18 all which were cognitive moves. These were among the most common moves regardless of the participants uniqueness-seeking levels or number of discussion comments. There was also a trend found between uniqueness-seeking levels and the proportion of cognitive to social moves. Students with higher uniqueness needs made more cognitive than social moves. That finding was made through the survey results. In contrast the gap between cognitive and social moves was very small for the students with low need for uniqueness. What was interesting to me was that no relationship between need for uniqueness and amount of contribution to the class discussion was found. A high or low need for uniqueness did not ensure higher engagement or more enjoyment. The researchers in this study were very open and honest with their limitations. They agree that further research should be done and other possibilities should be considered that may affect students’ learning and perceptions of online discussions. The weekly surveys administered were said to reveal other additional factors, such as student’s comprehension of the readings, their interests in the discussion topics, technical difficulties, the dynamics of the group and their own personal health status. Admittedly these factors may have had a impact on student’s enjoyment and participation with the online discussions rather then just their need for uniqueness. So what we learn is that the need for uniqueness seems to only represent one of several factors relevant to explaining students’ online work. I read Medea’s blog earlier. I know she is the presenter for this article and I must say I agree with a lot of what she calls the limitations of the study. Why not a larger pool of participants only 8? What about their cultural and diverse ethnic identities? Also most importantly what Medea highlights in her blog and I agree with is that these were graduate school students taking a class called “Discourse Analysis.” So wouldn’t this make them a step ahead of the others? Would it make them more confident in making discourse moves from the other graduate students? Like I mentioned above the research team acknowledges that more research needs to be done. So why not do it? I found all of this to be problematic but overall it has been interesting to be able to connect this article with some of the more recent articles that delve deeper into this idea of how important our identities are in shaping us as students and as human beings. I found this Ted Talk which I really enjoyed and thought could add to the conversation. I hope you enjoy it. Also a quote that I always loved and found fitting for this topic of conversation! See you in class! I think I’m ready to make some discourse moves of my own now! Take care guys. Xo

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Ferenz and Social Network Impacts on Writing

Unfortunately in transitioning from annotating the notes for the reading and the writing of this blog for it, I needed to switch computers and cannot recover my Hypothesis notes. As such my looking back through the reading for points of discussion may be a little less in depth.

This article puts forth a few points centered around what it refers to as L1 and L2 writing, with L1 being native language and L2 being second language. The general focus of the study is how academic literacy of non-native English speaker may be affected through social networks. Academic literacy for this body of students is defined as “…[encompassing] knowledge of the linguistic, textual, social and cultural features of academic written discourse as well as knowledge of English as used by their academic disciplines” (Ferenz). The study was done using a body of graduate students from an Israeli university and conducted in the form of interviews and questionnaires.

One of the strengths of this research is, as they point out at the beginning of the rationale section, that the research is done based on an “interconnection” of theories. One of the most powerful moments for me of writing (or in this case for doing research) is synthesizing different sources into a unique document and idea. Here, one of these sources is a theory that the social environment influences social practices. It follows, then, that because the social environment of a school is academic in nature, that the general environment of these L2 students is an academic one. The study then described how it may be difficult for these students to thrive in the realm of academic literacy if, as is noted, there is an L1 to L2 translation in their minds when they are doing work. But the study goes on to comment on findings which speaks to that initial concern.

The second concept which Ferenz uses for the study is the idea that social networks, which is more specifically featured as a student’s “discourse community,” impact a student’s writing and academic ability as well as their socializing and “enculturation.” Ferenz goes on within that section to clarify that although people make their own choices based on self-actualization and individuality, they often seek social groupings to enhance and strengthen these beliefs in themselves and assist in solidifying their identity. Here as I was reading this is when I became particularly interested. I’ve always felt there is something of a give-and-take to a person’s identity in a given place based on where they are coming from as well as who they are with. But apropos of this theory, Ferenz postulates that some students do not socialize for their identities in settings which are analogous to the social settings which would help their academic literacies.

Working into the Methodologies section, the author specifies on procedures and concerns. Interviews were used because this study involves largely experiential-based data, so self-reporting is likely one of the best avenues for data collection. The author then clarifies that, as a qualitative study, the data and conclusion to the research question is not intended to be taken objectively. Six graduate students from an Israeli university from different departments were selected from previous studies done to participate in this research. The importance of selecting students of varied departments I believe is that, as the research eventually documents, there is found a variety of social environments the students choose to exist within, as well as different personal literacies which impact their speech and writing. Of six interviews for each participant, of which the lengths varied, two distinct segments occurred. In the first interview segment, general and personal questions were asked to allow the participants to clarify on where they believed they stood academically as well as socially. The second segment then focused on questions pertaining to academic literacy and norms within the different networks with which they engaged in school. The two settings which the study was concerned with were academic settings, relating to instructional mediums, academic contacts and literacies, etc., and social settings, relating to contacts and situations outside the academic. At the end of the Methodologies section, Ferenz again relates the theory that who people choose to socialize with, as it intrinsically relates to goals that person has and who they are, who also have an impact on that person’s sense of self, is a direct factor in what academic literacies that person likely has.

As a second language for these students, English seems to exist academically for them in different ways. There is a gradation of what extent to which readings and conversations are held in either English or Hebrew academically, which does impact L2 acquisition. For instance, one participant, Miriam, is a psychology student who cites how her readings are primarily in English. Her learning was facilitated largely in English, and she claims to retain her thinking in English for these times. Conversely, a student like Leah claims to translate from English to Hebrew when storing information. The study goes on to say that the social settings these students are in, both academic and social, lead them to utilize their friends and academic supports to more or less specific and rigorous academic means.

What this means is that different groups of people within social circles function differently for students in how they help with academic literacy. If academic supports like professors and academic advisors are a student’s primary means of discussing L2 material, as was the case with a few of the participants here, then higher-level academic discussions are typically had. Things like ideas, structure, and methods are the takeaways. In contrast, if peers are the participant’s primary social avenue for discussing L2 material, more basic topics are covered instead. But the study goes deeper into the reasons behind these social choices. For some of the participants, like David who is a computer science student, the choice of with whom he communicates is not random but based on both academic and professional considerations. This is one of the main takeaways of the research I believe, which is that some fields, and some students really, approach their social networks not only from where they exist as students but where they exist as students relative to their careers. Those like David who utilize social networks within their professional fields in tandem with their scholastic ones, as opposed to some whose singular social network is academic, have different methods of L2 acquisition.

As the study approaches its latter findings and conclusions, the takeaway from the research seems to focus on goals. Ferenz points out that “During the process of writing, it may be said that language use is dependent upon the language in which knowledge was acquired and mentally stored.” Much of the interview material centered around how the students in the study took in, stored, and recycled information, much of that even based on what language the students did all of that in primarily. This information was then further specified on in what goals the students set for themselves in their L2 acquisition as graduate students. What the conclusion of the Results section has to say ultimately is that if the student questions their L2 usage in the efficacy of their work, or translates L1 to L2 in their work, then their academic literacy may not be as substantive as the students who immediately integrate L2 into their material and do not translate native to secondary language. It is then for the environment of the university to promote a higher level of L2 acquisition through sustained, meaningful advising from staff, and the goal-driven mentality of the students to seek peer-to-peer discussion.

I did enjoy this reading, certainly. On my own time, my leisure readings sometimes center around what effect socializing has on one’s sense of self, and how one’s self likewise impacts others. If I believe that there is a mirroring of humanity in each other then it stands to reason that in specific ways this would be true. What goals we have for ourselves as they translate to whom we choose to socialize with, may necessarily create social-academic environments. If people we socialize with for the sake of bolstering our academic literacy are either in academic advisory roles or professional-personal ones, then what we glean from them will differ.

Response Paper

Response to “EFL writers’ social networks” by Orna Ferenz 

“EFL writers’ social network: Impact on advanced academic literacy development” by Orna Ferenz is a research study aiming to show how social networks affect literacy acquisition for second language (L2) learners. Ferenz states that the attainment of academic literacy is dependent on the interactive relationships of students, teachers, advisors, and classmates, which make up the educational environment. In a sense, she conducted this study to see if these relationships/social settings, may in some way, impact the student’s approach to L2 academic literacy. 

The research was conducted at a large Israeli University, where the predominant language was Hebrew. Data was collected from interviews, a phenomenological approach was taken, with post-interview questions with six MA and Ph.D. students for an in-depth analysis. Ferenz chose the sample based on student familiarity on L1 academic literacy. The participants’ goals and social identity were also assessed, identifying them as either academically or professionally motivated. Each interview was transcribed verbatim and then categorized according to four recurring patterns:

      1. academic environment                              2. social environment

      3. participants’ identity and goals                 4. L2 advanced academic literacy practices

In the end, the study shows that the students who engaged in more academic-oriented social networks had strengthened their academic literacy. These students were exposed to more disciplinary language, practices, and activities that helped sharpen their literary skills. The students, who engaged in less academic oriented social networks, still maintained general literacy practices. 

When I began this class in spring 2020, I never thought in a million years; I would come out being able to read and actually understand a research paper. I don’t words to express how accomplished, proud, and grateful I feel. I can’t believe I am sitting here, able to discuss and kind of add in my two cents about someone else’s research paper. 

I thought this particular research paper was an exemplary model to look at while we are in the process of conducting our own research. There were some flaws I found in the structure of the paper while reading, such as Ferenz never mentioned the research method she took while conducting this study. If Dr. Nelson never stated it, I would have never guessed it. I would have also liked the literature review section to be a bit denser. Ferenz includes 21 citations in her study in just two paragraphs, which I thought was a bit vague. It is ok for someone who knows about L2 language acquisition, but for someone like me, who has no prior knowledge, I would have liked more information on the citations (maybe more of a summary).

Besides the construction of the paper, I also found this research pretty interesting. You never think about how social networks can impact your academic literacy or literacy in general. I have a funny story relating to this topic, not academic literacy, but how social networks affected my mother’s literacy when she first moved to America. Her first job in America was in a clothing factory which consisted of mainly Spanish workers. My mom learned Spanish as her first language in America, which is pretty ironic. It’s hilarious to think about; her social network was full of Spanish people, so she learned the second language of America before the first.

Additionally, I grew up speaking Gujarati as my first language, my social network until I was five was my native parents and my native baby sitter. I spoke English the way my parents spoke English, I still remember in first grade I told my friend I ate at White Castle, but I pronounced the t in the word castle, not knowing it was silent because that’s how my parents always said it. I still remember the embarrassment I felt that day; that’s the day I become more involved in academic language. I never wanted to mispronounce a word ever again.

Academically speaking, I can say that the type of social networks you develop makes a tremendous difference. Comparing myself to my best friend who never got the chance to complete her college education, there is a world of difference in our language. Literacy is always excelling, depending on your social network. There is a mass difference in my language/writing from high school to college and even more of a significant difference from my time as a bachelor vs. master’s student.

My developed language has differed at every stage of my life. I have found myself reflecting and mirroring the type of reading, writing, and speaking, my professors, advisors, and peers deliver. So yes, social networking is essential, and I can 100% agree with Ferenz that it does affect advanced academic literacy.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How has social networking/interacting contributed to your academic literacy?
  2. Do you think social networking has changed and will ultimately diminish now due to social technologies? 
  3. How much do you agree with this study? Do you believe social networking does ultimately impact AAL and Literacy in general?

Work Cited:

Ferenz Orna. “EFL Writers’ Social Networks: Impact on Advanced Academic Literacy.  Development” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 4 (2005) 339-351 secondlanguagewriting.com/documents/Ferenz_EFL-socialnetworks_2005.pdf.