Toward a classification of discourse patterns in asynchronous online discussions

Ella L.F. Fu*, Jan van Aalst, Carol K.K. Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


The goal of this study was to develop a classification for a range of discourse patterns that occur in text-based asynchronous discussion forums, and that can aid in the distinction of three modes of discourse: knowledge sharing, knowledge construction, and knowledge building. The dataset was taken from Knowledge Forum® databases in the Knowledge Building Teacher Network in Hong Kong, and included three discussion views created for different classes: Grade 5 Science, Grade 10 Visual Arts, and Grade 10 Liberal Studies. We used a combination of qualitative coding and narrative analysis as well as teachers’ understanding of online discourse to analyze student discussions. Nine discourse patterns were identified. These patterns revealed a variety of ways in which students go about their collaborative interactions online and demonstrated how and why students succeed or fail in sustaining collaborative interactions. This study extended the three modes of online discourse and developed different discourse patterns, which are efforts to provide instructional guidance. The implications of supporting productive discourse and the enactment of CSCL innovations in classrooms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-478
Number of pages38
JournalInternational journal of computer-supported collaborative learning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Asynchronous discussion forum
  • Discourse analysis
  • Discourse patterns
  • Knowledge building
  • Text chat


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