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Health and Physical Education | Nursing | Online and Distance Education


This qualitative study using transcript analysis was undertaken to clarify the value of Harasim’s Online Collaborative Learning Theory as a way to assess the collaborative process within nursing education. The theory incorporated three phases: (1) idea generating; (2) idea organizing; and (3) intellectual convergence. The transcripts of asynchronous discussions from a two-week module about disaster nursing using a virtual community were analyzed and formed the data for this study.

This study supports the use of Online Collaborative Learning Theory as a framework for assessing online collaborative discourse. Individual or group outcomes were required for the students to move through all three phases of the theory. The phases of the Online Collaborative Learning Theory could be used to evaluate the student’s ability to collaborate. It is recommended that group process skills, which have more to do with interpersonal skills, be evaluated separately from collaborative learning, which has more to do with cognitive skills. Both are required for practicing nurses. When evaluated separately, the student learning needs are more clearly delineated.

Document Type

Accepted Version


This article is the author-created version that incorporates referee comments. It is the accepted-for-publication version. The content of this version may be identical to the published version (the version of record) save for value-added elements provided by the publisher (e.g., copy editing, layout changes, or branding consistent with the rest of the publication).


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Assessing Online Collaborative Discourse, which has been published in final form at doi:10.1111/nuf.12091. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Original Citation

Henny Breen
Assessing online collaborative discourse.
Nursing Forum, 2015, volume 50, issue 4, pages 218-227



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