Influence of Personality on Online Discussion

Sue-Jen Chen
Edward J. Caropreso
University of North Carolina at Wilmington


Online collaborative learning has typically been studied within the context of learning communities. Little is known about the potential influence of students’ personalities on online communication, group interaction, and task engagement among members of a learning community. This study used a mixed-method, triangulation design, involving the collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data, to investigate the effects of personality on communication type and pattern, message length, task engagement, and student attitude toward online learning. Seventy students were organized into four personality-profile groups based on their Five Factor Personality Test scores, for the discussion of assigned case studies. Discussion messages were analyzed using Logistical Regressions for communication type and pattern, ANOVAs for message length, and Z-tests for pairwise comparisons for task engagement. The results indicate that personality affects communication type, pattern and task engagement but not message length. Students’ attitudes toward online discussion were generally positive. The results provide guidelines for forming groups and designing activities for online collaborative learning.

About the Author(s)...

Sue-Jen Chen is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She teaches courses on instructional design and evaluation, online course design, computer applications in education, and needs assessment. Dr. Chen’s research interests include online learning and communication, learning environment design, cooperative/collaborative learning, problem-based learning, and interactive multimedia design. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Edward J. Caropreso is an Associate Professor of Education in the Specialty Studies Department of the Watson School of Education, the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He has a MA and PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia, Athens. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on educational psychology, human development and learning, and educational research. His current research interests involve online learning, cognition and cognitive development, and teacher professional development. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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