Epistolary and Expository Interaction Patterns in a Computer Conference Transcript
Epistolary and expository discourse types have been associated with gender in earlier research on transcripts from listservs and other unmoderated sources. A procedure for transcript analysis (the Transcript Analysis Tool, or TAT), which focuses on sentence types and interaction patterns, was used to determine whether gender patterns observed earlier could be detected in contributions to an online conference generated as part of a graduate course. The expected patterns were found (women tended to be more epistolary and aligned, whereas men were more expository and opposed). An important difference was the lack of extreme forms of expository behavior (flaming, rudeness), which we attributed to the greater structure and moderation of the course environment. Questions raised by the study included the strategic value of epistolary and expository discourse styles in group collaborations and decision making, and topics for further research related to communications style and gender.