Conversational Functions for Knowledge Building: a Study of an Online Course at University

Stefano Cacciamani, Vittore Perrucci, Ahmad Khanlari


Interactions in online courses have been studied by analyzing Conversational Functions used by participants. Cacciamani, Perrucci Khanlari (2016) developed a coding scheme, named CF4KB, consisting of four Global Conversational Functions (GCF), each articulated in two Specific Conversational Functions (SCF). The aims of the present study were to explore: 1) What are the more frequently SCF used by the participants, both at the beginning and at the end of an online course, and if there are differences between the beginning and the end of the course in terms of SCF used; 2) If there is any specific pattern of SCF used at the beginning and at the end of the course and if there are any persistences in using the same SCF. For these aims, 152 messages posted in Knowledge Forum online environment by 24 university students (19 F and 5 M) were considered. The messages have been segmented into units of meaning and the 1451 resulting segments have been coded by two independent judges who applied the CF4KB. The analysis of frequencies evidenced the more frequently used SCF, at the beginning and the end of the course. Comparing SCF frequencies between the beginning and the end of the course, differences were detected. Results showed also different patterns in the use of the SCF at the beginning and at the end of the course. In addition, the persistence of one SCF was found. Implication of these results for the analysis of the interactions in online courses are discussed.


Knowledge Building, online environments, collaborative learning, Conversational Functions

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Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society | ISSN (online) 1971 - 8829 | ISSN (paper) 1826 - 6223 © 2017 Je-LKS - Italian e-Learning Association (SIe-L).