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Perspective Taking in Computer-Mediated Instructional Communication

Perspective Taking in Computer-Mediated Instructional Communication


This article examines which features of computer-mediated communication make perspective taking more demanding in online instructional settings compared with face-to-face situations. The first part presents the theoretical basis: It uses research on expertise to gain insights into the instructor’s perspective, and research from psycholinguistics and research on writing to describe the cognitive demands of communicating expert knowledge to nonexperts. The second part reports empirical results from online health counseling. This reveals that the persistence of artifacts makes the expert perspective more prominent and seems to hinder experts’ engagement in perspective taking during instruction. Two central variables that emerge in computer-mediated communication are discussed: The availability of texts and graphics as well as the nonexpert’s use of technical jargon. Both influence an expert’s choice of words and selection of content for a particular explanation. Hence, features of the learning environment, the communication platform, or the information provided by users at help desks play a crucial role in forming the expert’s perspective taking. Conclusions are drawn on how to improve perspective taking in computer-mediated instructional communication.
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