Peer Teaching in Web Based Threaded Discussions

William F. Brescia, Jr.
James Swartz
Cathy Pearman
Richard Balkin
David Williams
University of Arkansas


This study is, as an inquiry into the effectiveness of discussion leadership taxonomy, designed to help online discussion leaders support and facilitate discussions conducted by undergraduates. Participants were approximately two hundred preservice undergraduate students taking an Introduction to Educational Technology course. Each week students had access to online lectures and text materials, and participated in Web-based topical discussions. Data for this study came from open-ended interviews conducted with thirty-seven volunteer participants, and from all discussion posts. Analysis of the data showed that while some students had difficulty assuming the role of discussion leader, many felt that it was a stimulating challenge. The Tips for Online Leaders proved to be useful in promoting learning and provided discussion leaders with a variety of support strategies. While some students were resistant to Web-based learning, all students found that the discussions helped in learning the assigned material. Finally, the students were able to expand their own knowledge by observing the multiple perspectives presented by other students.

About the Author(s)...

William Brescia is an assistant professor in Educational Technology. Before accepting the position at the University of Arkansas, he served as Director, Division of Research and Curriculum Development, Department of Education, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Choctaw, MS., and as Director, Community Educational Services, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Seattle, WA. He has authored or co-authored numerous publications in American Indian Education, Nonprofit Education, and Instructional Technology and made in excess of 60 presentations at national, regional, and statewide conferences in his academic areas of interest. He currently is the Chair of the Professional Development committee of the International Mentoring Association. His research interests include developing strategies for improving online learning, mentoring, distance learning, and computer self-efficacy. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

James Swartz received his Ph D in Instructional Design and Technology from The Ohio State University. He is currently a Professor of Educational Psychology at Miami University of Ohio. Dr. Swartz has published articles about ethical and philosophical issues related to Instructional Technology.

Cathy Pearman is an Assistant Professor at Southwest Missouri State University where she teaches undergraduate reading courses and supervises practicum students in the public schools. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Arkansas. Her primary research interest is the impact of technology on the component skills and strategies of the reading process. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rick Balkin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling at Texas A&M University-Commerce. He has practiced in psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, and community mental health centers since 1993. Dr. Balkin holds professional licenses in Texas and Arkansas and has a specialization in supervision. He is also a Nationally Certified Counselor. His primary research interests include counseling outcomes, program evaluation, counseling adolescents, and gender and ethnic differences in counseling.

James Williams is a Ph.D. candidate in the Public Policy Program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He has presented at national, regional, and statewide conferences in his area of interest. His research interests include social inequalities, moral policies, and agenda setting. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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