AWEJ Volume.4 Number.2, 2013                                                                  Pp.310-326

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 Knowledge Construction and Gender in online Debates

 Ines Khalsi
The higher institute of Studies applied to Humanities


This study investigated knowledge construction in two online debates using the Gunawardena et al.’s Interaction Analysis Model (1997). On the one hand, it aimed at assessing the relationship between knowledge construction and participation. On the other hand, it investigated the variation of constructed knowledge by gender. Results revealed that most of the postings were coded phase II in debate A whereas most of the postings were coded phase I in debate B. Few postings were coded phase IV and no posting was coded phase V. Statistical analysis yield that knowledge construction and participation are significantly and positively correlated. Besides, there was no disparity in the variation of constructed knowledge by gender which implies that CMC may have an equalizing effect on men and women’s conversational behavior. Findings demonstrated that online debates may be appropriate media for learners to perform higher-order thinking and achieve knowledge construction but limited in fostering the higher mental phases (IV and V). The study confirmed the effectiveness of asynchronous online environment in supporting online learning. Some actions could be done to stimulate participation in order to foster knowledge building such as assigning roles or tasks to online debaters.
Keywords: Knowledge construction; online participation; gender; phases of interaction


Mrs Ines Khalsi Zaouchi is an assistant teacher in Tunisia at “the Higher Institute of Studies
Applied to Humanities” in the English department. She is in charge of teaching research
AWEJ Volume 4.Number. 2, 2013

Knowledge Construction and Gender Khalisi
Pramoolsook & Qian
Arab World English Journal
ISSN: 2229-9327
methodology and oral presentation skills to 3rd year Business English classes. For her master‟s
degree, she has conducted a research study on gender differences in computer-mediatedcommunication (CMC) that revealed that Age is the most consistent predictor of CMC
participation. Currently, she is working on her doctoral thesis entitled “Analysis of Online
Debates: Examining Social Construction of Knowledge in Computer Conferencing”.