Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mayall, Hayley J.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment


Identity (Psychology)--Social aspects; Electronic discussion groups--Education (Higher)--Social aspects; Educational technology; Higher education; Sociology


Asynchronous online discussion has become a staple of many higher education courses. The current study was designed to understand more fully the student experience within online discussions, with an emphasis on the experiences of undergraduate students outside the field of education. The research described in the current paper was a case study designed to examine the experiences of five students aged 20-25 who had senior status at a four-year university in the Midwest. Specifically, the research examined students' experiences using elements of social presence and impression management techniques to develop social identities within asynchronous online discussions, knowingly or unknowingly. Analysis included an examination of whether or not social identity formation processes changed throughout students' college careers, and, if the processes did change, then changes that appeared were analyzed. Participants were interviewed and select asynchronous online discussion transcripts from previous courses were retrieved.


Advisors: Hayley J. Mayall; Cindy S. York.||Committee members: Ying Xie.


293 pages




Northern Illinois University

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