Participation, interaction, and academic achievement in an online discussion environment

Binbin Zheng*, Mark Warschauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Though online writing can be beneficial for diverse students in out-of-school environments, there is little consensus on the value of its use in schools. This study examined the online discussion of 48 fifth-grade students and their teachers over the 2009-2010 school year in a public school with large numbers of English learners. We collected students' statewide standardized writing and reading test scores, as well as an archive of all participants' discussion threads during the school year. Students' participation and interaction pattern in the online discussion environment over a school year was examined using growth model analysis and social network analysis. The effect of students' participation on their academic achievement was analyzed using multiple regressions. The results suggest that well-designed online discussions among linguistically diverse upper elementary students can result in increased participation and interaction, leading to language and literacy development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic achievements
  • Interaction
  • Online communication
  • Participation


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