Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Luetkehans, Lara M.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment


Critical thinking--Effect of technological innovations on; Distance education--Computer-assisted instruction; Education; Higher--Computer-assisted instruction


There has been a significant increase in online learning in recent years. The popularity and demand has prompted an increase in online courses and online degree offerings available from universities and colleges throughout the world. With that demand there is an appeal for more research to improve the quality of online learning. Research exists regarding online learning that establishes the separate areas of the interrelationship of critical thinking and the inter-relationship of social presence and affective interaction. Very few studies have looked at critical thinking, social presence and affective interaction and their relationship to each other. This study investigated the relationship of affective and critical thinking interactions in online learning. Specifically this study examined: (a) how students demonstrate critical thinking events (b) what critical thinking events appear following affective events, and (c) what critical thinking events appear following emotion, humor, and self-disclosure. Twenty-five students enrolled in an online nursing management course participated in this study. This study examined the online transcripts from the student postings that were classified into critical thinking and affective categories and seventeen subsets called indicators. Since this is an emerging area of research this researcher developed the Affective and Critical Thinking Interaction Template (ACTIT). This template incorporated the above critical thinking and affective categories and indicators that were used to analyze online transcript data. This study also validated an instrument and method to examine the relationship of affective and critical thinking. The results of this study indicated that the critical thinking seemed to be dependent on affective behaviors. In the four groups that were studied, some group members’ affective interaction events increased and in turn their critical thinking interaction events increased. On the other hand, some group members’ affective interaction events were low and it followed that their critical thinking events were similarly low. The findings in this study suggested that affective behaviors made a difference in online learning. Critical thinking seemed to benefit from affective behaviors. In future design and development of online learning, strategies should include an affective component. In addition, faculty and student orientation could incorporate these strategies. It is hoped that this research will help instructors provide their students a quality learning environment.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [83]-86).


ix, 118 pages




Northern Illinois University

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