Alt Title

Levels of thinking in individual vs. group problem-based asynchronous on line learning environments

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Amy D.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Distance education--Psychological aspects


The use of online learning has increased to the point of becoi part of education programs at many colleges and universities. The £ learning occurred in response to the need for convenient and readily accessible university degree programs. However, in far too many instances, the adoption of this delivery method occurred without the aid of information that would lead to the effective design and delivery of online courses. This study was designed to determine the effects of collaborative and individual online problem solving on the relative frequency of higher-level thinking. The research sample consisted of 25 students in a graduate-level course at a large Midwestern university who were randomly assigned to one of six online discussion groups. During the initial discussions, three of the groups participated in collaborative problem solving and produced an agreed-upon problem solution, while the other three groups discussed the problem but produced individually constructed solutions. When the discussions were repeated, the groups switched environments. Research data consisted of student messages that were created during the discussions. Student messages were analyzed and coded to one of the five phases on a research-based model reported on in the literature on higher level thinking in online learning environments. The findings suggest that both collaborative and individual problem solving are effective pedagogies for generating higher level thinking in an online learning environment. The first discussion session produced minor differences in the relative frequency of higher level thinking between the collaborative and inc solving groups. However, during the second session, the collaborati solving groups exceeded the individual problem-solving groups in the relative frequency of higher level thinking. The results of this research support the potential of online learning environments in terms of their ability to promote higher level thinking. Additional research is needed to compare, contrast, and evaluate a variety of online learning pedagogies with the aim of identifying those that have the greatest potential for promoting higher level thinking. The replication of this study in a different environment might also be worthwhile.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [110]-121).


viii, 154 pages




Northern Illinois University

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