Computer-mediated communication in the University classroom: An experiment with on-line discussions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines whether supplementing face-to-face discussion with computer-mediated discussion (CMD) enhances the academic performance of undergraduate students in large lecture courses. It also examines the characteristics of students who volunteer to take part in CMD groups when such participation is optional and worth a small amount of credit. Student evaluations and academic performance data from a quasi-experimental study involving 142 undergraduates suggest that a combination of face-to-face and computer-mediated discussion provides a learning environment superior to that of the traditional classroom. Students actively involved in CMD groups not only reported learning more than they otherwise would have, but they also tended to earn higher grades than students taking part in face-to-face discussion only. CMD participants had more prior experience with electronic mail but similar levels of computer experience as other students. Patterns of participation in the on-line discussions are discussed along with ways to increase participation in CMD groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-174
Number of pages17
JournalCommunication Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Collaborative learning
  • Computer conferencing
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Electronic mail
  • On-line education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics


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