P115: Bringing student-student interactions online: Computer-moderated online discussions of intermolecular forces
A large body of work over the last few decades has reported on the positive effects of student-student interactions on student learning. In recognition of this, many instructors are seeking to incorporate student-student interaction into their classrooms. Simultaneously, however, classes are increasingly being held online, where student-student interactions are generally missing. In this talk, I will describe a curriculum module on intermolecular forces that we created as part of a larger effort to develop an online system capable of providing meaningful student-student interactions in a scalable manner. The system uses a collaborative chat application and a piece of software known as an “intelligent tutor” to guide students through the curriculum module, much like a human tutor would. The activity uses the well-known “jigsaw” instructional approach, providing each participant with training on a different type of intermolecular force. Each chat room is then populated with 3-4 students, one from each training background. The intelligent tutor joins the students in the chat room in order to facilitate their discussion using conversational “moves”, known collectively as “Accountable Talk”. These moves include prompting quiet students to summarize recent discussion, restating student statements using different wording, and asking other students if they agree or disagree with a student statement. In addition to describing how the system works, this talk will present results that link various aspects of these computer-moderated student discussions to student learning, as evidenced by pre- and post-test data.