An, Y., & Frick, T. (2006). Student perceptions of asynchronous computer-mediated communication in face-to-face courses [Electronic version]. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), 485-499. from EBSCOhost.
An and Fricks 2006 article
An and Frick’s (2006) article studied the student satisfaction and perceptions of asynchronous computer-mediated communication, like email and threaded discussions, compared to face-to-face discussions. 105 residential graduate and undergraduate students were asked open-ended questions about “their preferences, experiences, opinions, needs and problems” concerning the two types of interaction (An & Frick, 2006, p. 485). The study concluded that most students “preferred face-to-face discussion over CMC for most tasks” but CMC was favored for the simple tasks (An & Frick, 2006, p. 485). The student’s expressed they would favor CMC more if their teachers were more enthusiastic and involved in CMC (An & Frick, 2006). The study also revealed that students are more concerned with speed and convenience over “whether the discussion is face-to-face or CMC” (An & Frick, 2006, p. 485).
Appropriateness of the rationale justifying/leading up to the study
Research question(s): clarity/specificity, importance, relevance to audience
The first research question focused on the comfort level of the students in the CMC environment compared to the face-to-face environments: “When compared to face-to-face discussion, do residential students feel comfortable in CMC? What are the factors that might affect perceived comfort with CMC in face-to-face courses?” (An & Frick, 2006, p. 487). This question seemed appropriate to investigate considering this study was created to figure out which environment brought the most satisfaction to the students. Comfort often plays an important part in determining satisfaction of situations. The more comfortable a person is in a situation the more satisfaction they will get from the experience. This research question was clear and specific enough to determine the comfort level of the students. It was an effective research question to guide the study.
The second research question focused on different tasks and which environment they prefer to complete them in: “When working on different types of tasks (ambiguous, unequivocal, complex, simple, decision-making, and idea generating tasks), do students prefer face-to-face discussion or CMC? Why?” (An & Frick, 2006, p. 488). This question seemed appropriate to study because it would determine which situation students had the most positive experiences with. The more positive experiences a person has in a situation will make that person like it more. The students would have to decide which situation they would rather work in to complete each task based on their past experiences. The situation that was chosen the most would be the one they preferred. This question was clear and specific because it listed the types of tasks they wanted the students to respond to.
The third and forth research question were created because An & Frick hypothesized face-to-face discussion would be preferred for “equivocal tasks, complex or difficult tasks, and convergent or decision-making tasks”, and CMC would be preferred “for unequivocal tasks, simple tasks, and divergent or idea generating tasks” (An & Frick, 2006, p. 488). The questions focused on what the students liked and disliked about CMC as well as what they felt was needed to make CMC better: “3. What CMC factors do residential students perceive as satisfactory or as frustrating? 4. What do residential students perceive as being needed for learning best from computer-mediated discussion?” (An & Frick, 2006, p. 488). These questions very specific because they focus on exactly what students like and dislike about CMC and exactly what the students needed to make CMC complete. The problem with these research questions is they are biased. The questions have the assumption the students will prefer face-to-face. Research questions should be added that ask the same thing for face-to-face interaction. The last questions would hold more validity if they asked the students the same things for face-to-face situations because a comparison between the two situations could be made. The comparison could be a valuable factor in determining which situation the students preferred. For example if the students gave more positive answers for one situation it could add to the evidence used to prove which situation was preferred.