Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Xie, Kui

Committee Member

Forde, M. Connie

Committee Member

Adams, James

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Instructional Systems and Workforce Development

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development


The current study investigates the effects of preparing learners for an online debate through a worked example in terms of student perception, participation, level of cognitive skill, and electronic interaction patterns. There has been a change in the focus of distance learning research from comparative media studies to the means to improve the quality of distance education. One of the key elements in this changing impetus are strategies to promote interaction such as the introduction of structure or scaffolding argumentation (McIsaac & Blocher, 1998). One such strategy is the online debate in which students are organized into teams to take a position on an issue and argue on its behalf (Jeong, 2004). The debate is constrained through the addition of rules and specific message headers. Well-designed quality interaction holds the potential to create more satisfied learners and higher quality learning outcomes (Muirhead, 2002), but in the absence of quality, interaction has been found to actually lead to a decrease in satisfaction, participation, and performance (Joung & Keller, 2004; Kreijns, Kirschner, & Jochems, 2002). One way to ensure quality within interactive exercises such as online debate is to prepare students through a worked example. A worked example models an expert’s work and demonstrates desired behaviors for the learner to study (Atkinson, Derry, Renkl, & Wortham, 2000). Students were randomly assigned to teams to participate in an online debate with half being given access to a worked example before participating. In order to examine the effects of the worked example on students’ perceived satisfaction and level of preparedness, a survey was administered at various points throughout the semester. Additionally, debate transcripts were analyzed for participation, cognitive skill, and interaction patterns. The results demonstrate that students prepared through a worked example participated more frequently, wrote more words or phrases that encouraged the participation of others, and used higher-order thinking skills. The conclusion was that worked examples can be used to model behaviors for students to emulate. The implication being that instructors should consider providing worked examples before engaging students in online debate and future research should examine the efficacy of a worked example in preparing learners for other types of interactive activities.



learner preparedness||worked example||distance education