One of the presentations at Slanguages 2010 which was of great interest to me was the presentation of Sedat Akayoglu’s research into the discourse patterns in terms of negotiation of meaning functions which were used during an undergraduate course entitled ‘Advanced Reading and Writing’ in Second Life.
The research looked at 60 undergraduate students at the Middle Eastern Technical University who were not familiar with SL before the course. The course in SL focused on writing activities and in particular on different paragraph types. These included descriptive, classification, process analysis, narrative, compare and contrast and argumentative paragraphs. The course had a home in SL but the scenarios used other SL sites as resources. For example, during the class on descriptive paragraphs, students were asked to teleport to a different location, to take a photo of this location and then produce a written descriptive of this photo or for the process analysis paragraph, students teleported to a sandpit where they worked in groups to build houses and then they were asked to write an analysis of their group building process.
During Akayoglu’s research, quantitative and qualitative data was collected. Sessions were captured using Camtasia and a seperate avatar and students were asked to email their chat logs. A taxonomy developed by the researcher and Altun (2008) of the different discource functions (e.g.clarification request or confirmation check) was used to analyse the data. To facilitate the analysis stage the data was coded using the Hyper research qualitative analysis tool (v5.2).
Analysis of the data collected showed that the most frequent negotiation of meaning functions were confirmation, elaboration request and clarification request whereas reply vocabulary, reply comprehension and vocabulary check were the least frequently used functions. This apparently is similar to similar studies on text based CMC.
The presentation slides can be found by clicking on the link in the first paragraph and otherwise here is a photo of the avatars following Akayoglu’s presentation.