Communications of the Association for Information Systems


This paper presents a theory-informed blueprint for mining unstructured text data using mixed- and multi-methods to improve understanding of collaboration in asynchronous online discussions (AOD). Grounded in a community of inquiry theoretical framework to systematically combine established research techniques, we investigated how AOD topics and individual reflections on those topics affect the formation of clusters or groups in a community. The data for the investigation came from 54 participants and 470 messages. Data analysis combined the analytical efficiency and scalability of topic modeling, social network analysis, and cluster analysis with qualitative content analysis. The cluster analysis found three clusters and that members of the intermediate cluster (i.e., middle of three clusters) played a pivotal role in this community by expressing uncertainty statements, which facilitated a collective sense-making process to resolve misunderstandings. Furthermore, we found that participants’ selected discussion topics and how they discussed those topics influenced cluster formations. Theoretical, practical, and methodological implications are discussed in depth.





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