Asynchronous CMC, Collaboration and the Development of Critical Thinking in a Graduate Seminar in Applied Linguistics


  • Zsuzsanna I. Abrams



A primary objective of graduate education, and often promoted by peer collaboration tasks, is the development of critical thinking skills. The present study compares how graduate students enrolled in a qualitative research design course in applied linguistics utilized asynchronous computer-mediated communication (ACMC) and face-to-face interactions to critique field-specific research, to design and conduct their own research projects, and to engage in professional discourse in and out of class. The analyses reveal that 1) it was impossible to measure the development of critical thinking skills within one semester, and 2) rather than ACMC serving as a spring-board for such development prior to or in collaboration with classroom exchanges, ACMC and face-to-face interactions served different social and intellectual purposes in the process of practicing critical thinking skills. While face-to-face exchanges were preferred when discussing previous research, only in the ACMC context were students willing to critique each other’s work.