Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL Number 6. July 2020                     Pp.278-289

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Collaboration through Online Discussion Board: A Discourse Analysis of CALL in a
Normal University in China

Cheng Hsu
Department of Education
Jiangsu Normal University, P.R.C.



Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, all students take courses online in Mainland China at the beginning of the semester. The discourse for communication online is important for a successful course. In this study, the online discussion board assignment of a college graduate course was analyzed for the discourse patterns based on Vygotsky’s Cultural-historical theories that are more pragmatic than linguistics (Wertsch, 1990) and miss communication between students (Forman & McCormick, 1995). The course was taught and communicated in all-English. Participants are first-year graduate students in one Normal University in Northern Jiangsu Province in China. Data were generated based on a discourse analysis qualitative research and analyzed using the histogram and qualitative discourse pattern analysis. Findings for the histogram showed a late assignment submission, while more than half of students submitted during the final three days while having 11 days to finish. Patterns of responding were discussed in “questions with most responses” and “questions with no response.” The open-ended questions allow respondents to utilize knowledge previously acquired as mediation for further discussions, while close-ended questions received a pattern of the contribution of degrading. Questions with no responses were mostly posted during the final two days. The discourse pattern of online discussion boards, thus manifested itself as a mediation tool for idea exchange not only online for peer evaluation but also self-evaluation.
Keywords: CALL, Cultural-historical Theory, EFL, Online Discussion Board, Vygotsky

Cite as: Hsu, C. (2020). Collaboration through Online Discussion Board: A Discourse Analysis of CALL in a Normal University in China. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL (6). 278-289. DOI: 


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Dr. Cheng Hsu is an associate professor of the Department of Education at Jiangsu Normal
University. He has taught a variety of technology and English education courses such as CALL,
CAI, multimedia English, and EFL undergraduate courses, as well as graduate-level curriculum
and instruction courses. ORCID: