Trigger analysis in computer mediated conferencing.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the characteristics of trigger messages that initiate discussion in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) asynchronous text conferencing. A total of one thousand and twenty-eight messages from the text transcripts of three different graduate level courses were analyzed. Two text analysis models were used to investigate observed on-line interaction behavior: the Text Analysis Tool (TAT: Fahy 2001;Fahy 2002a; Fahy 2002b), and the Community of Inquiry model (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001; Archer, Garrison, Anderson & Rourke, 2001; Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000; Garrison, Anderson & Archer; 2001; Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). While triggers were found to be distinguishable by the presence of open-ended questions, the occurrence varied significantly among the courses. Two of the courses had seven times the number of true triggers than the other course. Further analysis of instructor and student messages revealed evidence of significantly more interpersonal communication. Although other factors could exist, it was argued that the variation in the proportion of triggers and level of interpersonal communication was an indication of the maturity of the CMC communities.