Abstract: Upward and downward social comparison mechanisms may positively affect student performance in course-related work. However, research is not conclusive about whether the negative effects that can also be caused by comparison outweigh the benefits. In this research project, we combined social comparison with detailed informational feedback on a specific performance goal in online discussions. The performance goal was tied to the extent to which student posts and comments exhibited integration of different dimensions of the discussion topic. The social comparison mechanism was based on de-identified discussion transcripts that included the score of each post or comment. Supplemental informational feedback was provided by the instructor in the form of goal-specific annotations on the transcript that clearly explained why each post/comment had received a given score. In this paper, we report on a field experiment that spanned over four semesters, completed in twelve course sections, each involving two online discussions. The treatment courses implemented the ‘winning pair’ mechanism, which is a combination of informational evaluation and social comparison in online discussion. Comparisons on quality and quantity of student interactions at individual, dyad, and course levels are discussed in detail. We propose that winning-pair could be an effective mechanism advancing quality in creativity-intensive non-mechanical course-related assignments.
Keywords: informational evaluation, online discussion, social comparison
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Recommended Citation: Javadi, E., Gebauer, J., Novotny, N. (2019). Informational Evaluation & Social Comparison: A Winning Pair for Course Discussion Design. Information Systems Education Journal, 17(1) pp 18-27. http://isedj.org/2019-17/ ISSN: 1545-679X. (A preliminary version appears in The Proceedings of EDSIGCON 2018)