Visualizing Topics, Time, and Grades in Online Class Discussions

Ming, N.C., & Ming, V.L. (2013, June). Visualizing Topics, Time, and Grades in Online Class Discussions. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL). Madison, WI.


We present a series of visualizations of online discussions that combine topic modeling with other dimensions of the discussion contributions, to help faculty assess and improve learning from discussions. After applying probabilistic latent semantic analysis (pLSA) to calculate the relative conceptual distance between discussion posts, we projected posts or collections of posts into a two-dimensional space. By color-coding points according to their temporal position in the course or according to the author’s final grade, we captured patterns in students’ contributions that connect the topic modeling factors to more intuitively familiar characteristics. We consider how some possible qualitative features of the discussion may be represented in the topic space and outline future work to develop these tools further.

View full paper here.


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