7(3), August 1990, pages 23-39
Annotated Bibliography of Resources in
The following bibliography lists resources for research in the
area of computer networks as vehicles for communication. The purpose
of this bibliography is to compile sources that present research
findings, pedagogical approaches, and theoretical discussions
related to applications of computer-mediated-communication (CMC)
systems--electronic mail, computer conferences, or bulletin boards.
The research presented here represents current approaches to studying
CMC that span a variety of disciplines and research interests
in both classroom and real-world settings.
The bibliography is divided into four sections that reflect recent
research and pedagogical trends in CMC. The first section, CMC
and Writing Instruction, focuses on various studies and pedagogical
applications of networks as vehicles for sharing and responding
to writing. Studies in this area have sought to examine how peer
response and collaborative writing exercises conducted via CMC
may differ from those conducted in the conventional (face-to-face)
classroom. Findings here indicate that students tend to write
and to respond to writing more often and more frequently via CMC,
are better able to reach a group consensus, and often exhibit
increased motivation and a greater sense of authority over their
CMC Distance Education presents both academic and professional
applications of CMC as a vehicle for teaching/learning among students,
researchers, and business professionals in remote geographical
locations. In an academic context, CMC systems are currently used
as a primary or secondary vehicle for the delivery of courses
that link together students from different schools, states, or
even countries. Some recent attention has focused on distance
education in the United States. As the following sources indicate,
however, educators have placed much more emphasis on distance
education in locations such as Canada, Great Britain, and various
countries in western Europe. In these countries during the last
decade or so, educators have established international networks
that allow students from different parts of the world and different
cultures to interact with one another via CMC. Although research
in using international networks is new and somewhat tentative,
the following articles do document successes in using these networks
as a way to promote cultural exchange, increased understanding
of cultural exchange, increased understanding of cultural differences,
greater group participation, as well as increased problem-solving
Similarly, CMC has greatly expanded the ability of members of
various research communities and businesses to communicate with
one another and thereby to exchange knowledge and resources, exchanges
that once were limited to face-to-face conferences and professional
The third section, Social and Psychological Influences of CMC,
features studies conducted using a variety of research methodologies.
These studies seek to examine through analyses of transcripts
and surveys of users how CMC affects various aspects of communication,
including the sending and receiving of feedback, group interaction,
and degree of participation among group members. Those studies
that compare CMC to face-to-face communication almost universally
find increased instances of uninhibited behavior (as characterized
by profanity, incessant rambling, etc.), increased interaction,
and more equal levels of participation among members in CMC groups
as compared to face-to-face groups. Additionally, research findings
in this area also indicate that users of CMC, in some instances,
initially may find it more difficult to adapt to communicating
in this medium because of the lack of nonverbal communication
cues (e.g., physical gestures, cues about physical appearance,
authority, status, etc.) characteristic of face-to-face communication.
Finally, the Language of CMC focuses on several articles that
offer insights into the medium itself. Authors in this section
pose various theoretical explanations as to how the language of
CMC differs from face-to-face communication, the similarities
and differences between CMC "conversation" and writing,
and the social implications of individuals communicating with
one another electronically.
Although the following books and articles represent researchers
from different fields examining CMC from a variety of perspectives,
some common threads do exist throughout all the research: CMC
tends to equalize participation of individuals within a group;
CMC can be used as a viable substitute for face-to-face meetings/classes;
users of CMC tend to respond favorably to the medium; and as the
use of CMC systems becomes more widespread, more emphasis must
be placed on teaching effective conferencing techniques to users
and structuring conferences.
A search of three computer databases (ERIC, Psychological Abstracts,
and ABI/INFORM) for the previous 15 years netted the following
books and articles on computer-mediated communication. An attempt
was made to exclude sources dealing with more technical matters
of computer networking (e.g., detailed descriptions of system
designs) or sources that, although they may have discussed computer
networking, did not specifically address the issue of computer
networking as a vehicle for communication among users of the system.
CMC and Writing Instruction
Barrett, E., & Paradis, J. (1988). Teaching writing in an
on-line classroom. Harvard Educational Review, 58,
Describes an experimental writing course using electronic networks
for on-line classroom writing instruction. Authors discuss the
problems, challenges, and results of an "electronic"
Boothby, W. S. (1988). The influence of computer-mediated writing
conferences on revision: Case studies of college students (Doctoral
dissertation, Harvard University, 1988). Dissertation Abstracts
International, 48, 2566A.
Presents two case studies of a graduate and an undergraduate student
and investigates the influence of computer-mediated (electronic
mail) writing conferences with both peers and the teacher on these
students' revisions. Finds that the largest revisions are associated
with repetitive feedback on the same textual problems and that
both students make their largest "meaning-changing' revisions
based on comments received via the computer.
Eldred, J. (1989). Computers, composition pedagogy, and the social
view. In G. E. Hawisher & C. L. Selfe (Eds.), Critical
perspectives on computers and composition instruction (pp.
201-218). New York: Teachers College Press.
Examines social theories and practices and suggests how microcomputers
can be used to complement social theory and pedagogy. Places particular
emphasis on computer networking as a vehicle for teaching about
and sharing writing.
Jennings, E. M. (1987). Paperless writing: Boundary conditions
and their implications. In L. Gerrard (Ed.), Writing at century's
end: Essays on computer-assisted composition (pp. 11-20).
New York: Random House.
Describes an advanced writing course taught using a central computer,
time-sharing terminals, and an electronic bulletin board. Author
finds that students in this "electronic class" are able
to write for an expanded audience and that authority and responsibility
for texts shifts away from the instructor and rests more with
Kinkead, J. (1987). Computer conversations: E-mail and writing
instruction. College Composition and Communication, 38,
Describes the different kinds of writing that students engage
in while communicating via a writing-center network. Author argues
that writing via a network promotes good writing and increased
motivation on the part of the student.
Kinkead, J. (1988). Wired: Computer networks in the English classroom.
English Journal, 77, 39-41.
Describes several ways by which collaborative writing projects
can be integrated in the curriculum using electronic mail and
stresses that collaborative writing can be more effective via
electronic mail because the barriers of time and distance are
Kremers, M., & Haile, P. (1986). Teaching writing by interdisciplinary
computer conference. Journal of Educational Technology Systems,
Describes a computer conference (PARTICIPATE) at New York Institute
of Technology designed to link together a writing instructor and
psychology instructor with students writing research papers in
psychology. Finds that, although students quickly learn to use
the conferencing system, students do not "converse"
very frequently on the system, an indication that careful planning
and structuring of a computer conference may be necessary to encourage
greater levels of participation.
Marcus, S. (1987). Computers and English: Future tense . . . future
perfect. English Journal, 76, 88-90.
First of a two-part series that examines the impact of changing
technology on English instruction. A brief section is devoted
to teacher-monitored networks in electronic writing labs. Other
issues related to computer-assisted instruction include computer-generated
texts, interactive reading-writing software, style checkers, and
Payne, D. (1987). Computer-extended audiences for student writers:
Some theoretical and practical implications. In L. Gerrard (Ed.),
Writing at century's end: Essays on computer-assisted composition
(pp. 21-26). New York: Random House.
A network is used to link sophomore-level high school students
with senior secondary-education majors at a university. High school
students wrote paragraphs that were then sent to and commented
on by the university students. Researcher finds that the high
school students, when writing on the network, spend a longer time
writing and write longer papers than they do when writing in the
Schriner, D. K., & Rice, W. C. (1989). Computer conferencing
and collaborative learning: A discourse community at work. College
Composition and Communication, 40, 472-478.
Describes a study at The University of Michigan that integrated
CONFER--a computer conference system--into 15 sections of Introductory
Composition. Initial findings indicate that students using this
system wrote more and more often than they did in traditional
settings. In addition, students are more willing to express their
individual voices, to consider alternate viewpoints, and better
able to reach a group consensus.
Schwartz, H. J. (1984). SEEN: A tutorial and user network for
hypothesis testing. In W. Wresch (Ed.), The Computer in Composition
Instruction (pp. 47-62). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers
Describes a computer program, SEEN, that functions as a tutorial
and as a network for students to respond to other students' "hypotheses"
about a literary work. Students entered their ideas or "hypotheses"
about a literary work into the network; these hypotheses were,
in turn, saved and displayed by the network for other students
to read and to comment on.
Skubikowski, K., & Elder, J. (1987). Word processing in a
community of writers. College Composition and Communication,
Describes a first-year writing course in which microcomputers
linked to a mainframe were used to group students in three class
sections. Students in these response groups responded to drafts-in-progress
and offered suggestions for developing ideas. Researchers find
that students produce a large amount of writing are willing to
share personal thoughts with group members, and collectively develop
and share a repertoire of writing strategies.
Stroble, E. J. (1988). A look at writer's comments shared on
computer screens: Can electronic mail facilitate peer group response.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational
Research Association, New Orleans, LA. (ERIC Document Reproduction
Service No. ED 297 723)
Study compares students' responses to drafts in progress offered
face-to-face and via electronic mail. Comparisons are made on
the number, tone, and content of writers' comments; writers' reasons
for revision; quality of final texts; and writers' preference
for a mode of communication. Results reveal that, although writers
received equal numbers of comments in both modes, in electronic
mail writers received greater numbers of positive comments addressing
specific, substantive features of text. The study concludes that
electronic mail may function better as a complement to, rather
than a substitute for, face-to-face peer groups.
CMC and Distance Education
Bitzer, D. L. (1986). The PLATO project at the University of Illinois.
Engineering Education, 77, 175-180.
Describes one of the first computer-network systems used in education,
PLATO, developed at the University of Illinois. Traces the origin,
development, and current status of the system. Describes the three
types of dialogues that PLATO offers--mail, electronic bulletin
boards, and open conferences.
Cohen, M., & Miyake, N. (1986). A worldwide intercultural
network exploring electronic messaging for instruction. Instructional
Science, 15, 257-273.
Describes the Intercultural Learning Network (ILN), an international
computer network used to assist students from different cultures
at the secondary and college level in working together on various
educational projects. The economic and technical feasibility of
a worldwide intercultural network, some of the difficulties associated
with developing ILN, and sample learning activities and assignments
used on the network are discussed.
Cummins, J. (1988). From the inner city to the global village:
The microcomputer as a catalyst for collaborative learning and
cultural interchange. Language, Culture, and Curriculum,
Argues that the microcomputer has the potential for "genuinely
communicative language education" if used in conjunction
with international communication networks. Describes some available
international networks and shows through student-writing samples
how teaching/learning via a network promotes literacy development,
cultural exchange and reinforcement, artistic expression, computer
literacy, and international education co-operation.
Davies, D. (1988). Computer-supported co-operative learning systems:
Interactive group technologies and open learning. Programmed
Learning and Educational Technology, 25, 205-215.
Examines computer-mediated communication systems as an example
of computer-supported co-operative learning. Describes the problems
created by the mix of computer networks and constrained communication
and offers techniques for designing computer-supported co-operative
Field, C. (1987). Earn credits on-line. InCider, 5,
Provides a description of a computer network designed to allow
students to take courses from colleges and universities all around
the United States. Provides registration procedures and a description
Hart, R. (1987). Towards a third generation distributed conferring
system. Canadian Journal of Educational Communication,
Describes the first of the RAPPI projects, an ongoing series of
international projects linking 75 schools (grades 2-12) in Canada
and western Europe in an electronic network. Initial evaluations
reveal that more emphasis must be placed on teaching people to
make effective use of hardware/software (teachware) for the system
to be a successful tool for teaching/learning.
Hiltz, S. R. (1986). The "virtual classroom": Using
computer-mediated communication for university teaching. Journal
of Communication, 36,95-104.
Describes a long-term computer conference project designed to
act as a supplement to traditional classes and as a primary mode
of course delivery for university teaching. Surveys administered
to participating students reveal that they felt the network was
more convenient to gain access to, yet more awkward to communicate
with, than face-to-face instruction because of the lack of nonverbal cues
Kaye, T. (1987). Introducing computer-mediated communication into
a distance education system. Canadian Journal of Educational
Communication, 16, 153-166.
Describes some early trials of electronic mail and computer conferencing
in distance education courses at British Open University. Provides
descriptions of two courses taught on MAIL MANAGER, an electronic-mail
system, and the role of tutors as conference moderators.
Levin, J. A., Riel, M., Miyake, N., & Cohen, M. (1987). Education
on the electronic frontier: Teleapprentices in globally distributed
educational contexts. Contemporary Educational Psychology,
Further description of the ILN (see Cohen & Miyake, 1986,
above) is provided. Authors provide examples of students from
different countries communicating with each other to solve a hypothetical
problem of water shortage. They argue that communicating via the
network increased students' problem-solving skills.
Pear, J. J., & Kinsner, W. (1988). Computer-aided personalized
system of instruction: An effective and economical method for
short- and long-distance education. Machine-Mediated Learning,
Describes a computer program based on Keller's Personalized System
of Instruction that is used for the teaching of on-campus and
off-campus courses at the University of Manitoba. Provides descriptions
of the electronic mail system, student attitudes, costs, examples
of students' work from the course, and directions for further
Phillips, G. M., & Santoro, G. M. (1989). Teaching group discussion
via computer-mediated communication. Communication Education,
Describes a group discussion course offered to 500 students at
Pennsylvania State University designed to operate via an electronic
mail system and bulletin board. Researchers find that the "asynchronous"
nature of the system is a benefit to both instructors and students,
allowing them to work at their convenience and transfer questions
and answers rapidly. Other advantages include easy storage and
retrieval of messages, more equal group participation, and the
ability for researchers to quickly gather data about group operations.
Schwartz, J. (1987). Using an electronic network to create a read
context for high school writing. Narrative report for the National
Council of Teachers of English. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service
No. ED 291 105)
Modems and electronic mail are used to link three high school
classes located in different geographical areas of the United
States. Students from different cultural backgrounds write notes,
letters, stories, drafts, etc., to each other and adjust to the
rhetorical situation depending on the reader, the tone, and the
form of writing. Study concludes that writing via electronic mail
provided a wider range of audiences for students and thus makes
them more aware of writing for different audiences and more sensitive
to cultural differences.
Vicki, V. (1986). Electronic mail in a children's distance course:
Trial and evaluation. Distance Education, 7, 237-260.
Describes and evaluates a project that used electronic mail to
teach geographically isolated elementary-level home students in
nine different Australian cities. Discusses problems with equipment
and reasons for a successful outcome, and provides sample student
Galati, T. (1986). Electronic communication: Implications for
training. Training and Development Journal, 40,
Author argues that, as computer conferencing and electronic mail
become more widely used, professionals must be trained in the
skills necessary to communicate in these media, training that
must take into account language change, resistance on the part
of upper-level management, and the restructuring of jobs.
Kerr, E. B. (1986). Electronic leadership: A guide to moderating
on-line conferences. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communications,
Describes suggested effective leadership styles and skills necessary
for moderating on-line meetings and facilitating electronic groups.
Presents an analysis of the structures, processes, tasks, and
roles, in addition to suggested problem-solving techniques and
ways of encouraging participation.
Pfaffenberger, B. (1986). Research networks, scientific communication,
and the personal computer. IEEE Transactions on Professional
Communications, 29, 30-33.
Argues that electronic mail, bulletin boards, and computer conferencing
are able to integrate research networks--i.e., informal organizations
of faculty who share an interest in a research area. In addition
to their low cost and flexibility, computer networks have the
potential to "democratize" research networks because
they obliterate social barriers and status distinctions; therefore,
they do not exclude young faculty and researchers at low-prestige
Pullinger, D. J. (1986). Chit-chat to electronic journals: Computer
conferencing supports scientific communication. IEEE Transactions
on Professional Communications, 29, 23-29.
Provides a summary of studies related to the British Library's
1980-1985 computer-conferencing experimental program. Participants
use the system for a variety of purposes including leaving messages,
accessing journals, and conducting conferences. Provides a description
of the system and the results of how patterns of access affect
expectations of and responses to the quantity of material received.
Pyle, I. C. (1985). Uses for computer conferencing. Data Processing,
Provides a basic description of how computer conferences operate
and examines two specific computer conferences: COM--a computer
conference operating in Sweden, and Notepad--a conference chosen
for study by the British Library Blend project.
Saunders, C. S., & Heyl, J. E. (1988). Evaluating educational
computer conferencing. Journal of Systems Management, 39,
Suggests that few companies have taken advantage of the educational
opportunities afforded by computer conferencing. Some of these
opportunities include class participation by students in re mote
areas, increased overall participation because strong personalities
cannot dominate on a conference system, better-developed discussions,
and increased student/teacher interaction. Disadvantages of computer
conferences include no audio communication, frustration caused
by unanswered questions, and feelings of isolation on the part
Social And Psychological Influences of
Crowston, K., Malone, T. W., & Lin, F. (1987). Cognitive science
and organizational design: A case study of computer conferencing.
Human-Computer Interaction, 3, 59-85.
Provides a detailed perspective for investigating the link between
technology and organizational structure based on concepts from
artificial intelligence. Information processing in organizations
is characterized by the way people exchange and process messages.
Study suggests a new approach to information processing through
the analysis of a case, one in which the introduction of a computer
conference is coupled with a reduction in levels of management.
Eklundh, K. S. (1987). Explicit and implicit feedback in computer-mediated
communication. Computer Networks and ISDN Systems, 14,
Analyzes different kinds of feedback according to their role and
function in computer-mediated dialogue. Examines explicit and
implicit feedback with respect to letter writing on the system.
Study finds that implicit feedback (e.g., receiving, marking,
and forwarding messages) have a different yet greater role in
computer-mediated communication than in face-to-face communication.
Freeman, L. C. (1984). The impact of computer- based communication
on the social structure of an emerging scientific specialty. Social
Networks, 6, 201-221.
Studies the interpersonal ties among 16 scientists before and
during a computer conference. Based on the results of questionnaires
completed by the participants, the author concludes that a computer
conference can take the place of face-to-face interaction and
provide the necessary social structure for a scientific specialty
Greif, I. (Ed.). (1988). Computer-supported cooperative work:
A book of readings. San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.
Presents a collection of 28 articles dealing with the subject
of computer-mediated communication as it primarily relates to
organizational settings. Topics range from the origin of computer-mediated
studies, theoretical issues in computer-mediated studies, system
designs, comparisons to other communication modes, and empirical
studies investigating the cognitive and affective influences of
Hiltz, S. R. (1984). Online communities: A case study of the
office of the future. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Presents the results of a two-year case study of several scientific
research communities communicating via the Electronic Information
Exchange System (EIES). Examines users' acceptance of system,
reactions to and preferences for specific features, changes in
communication and work patterns, and users' levels of productivity
when using the system.
Hiltz, S. R., & Turoff, M. (1978). The network nation:
Human communication via computer. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Presents an in-depth survey of how computer networks are used
by various individuals, groups, and organizations, with an emphasis
on the social and psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication.
Reviews applications of computer networks in business, government,
education, and the home, and presents analyses of how communication
via a computer network may affect individual and group participation
and interactions among members within a group.
Kiesler, S., Siegel, J., & McGuire, T. W. (1984). Social psychological
aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist,
Describes the issues raised by computer-mediated communication
and presents results of an empirical study investigating how groups
communicate differently face-to-face versus asynchronous (real-time)
computer network and electronic mail, with respect to variables
of participation, communication efficiency, interpersonal behavior,
and group choice. Study finds that both forms of computer-mediated
communication have marked effects on these variables and that
instances of uninhibited behavior are somewhat greater in the
synchronous network as compared to electronic mail.
Rice, R. E., & Love, G. (1987). Electronic emotion: Socioemotional
content in a computer-mediated communication network. Communication
Research, 14, 85-108.
Authors examine the transcripts of computer conferences and find
that computer-mediated communication systems can facilitate an
exchange of "socioemotional" content (i.e., interactions
that show solidarity, tension relief, agreement, antagonism, tension,
and disagreement). Provides a description of two different approaches
Schaefermeyer, M. J., & Sewell, E. H. (1988). Communicating
by electronic mail. American Behavioral Scientist, 32,
Presents a review of the research on computer-mediated communication
and the results of a survey of users of three different computer
networks operating on BITNET. The survey results suggest that
electronic mail is becoming increasingly popular as a replacement
for other communication systems--telephone, letter, and face-to-face
Sherblom, J. (1988). Direction, function, and signature in electronic
mail. Journal of Business Communication, 25, 39-54.
Presents a content analysis of 157 electronic-mail files received
during a period of several months by a middle-level manager of
a large organization, with respect to direction (horizontal or
vertical communication), communicative function, and absence or
presence of a signature. Finds significant differences in communicative
function and presence of signature with respect to direction of
communication. Argues that, throughout the corporation, electronic
mail changes communication function and context in specific ways.
Siegel, J., Dubrovsky, V., Kiesler, S., & McGuire, T. W. (1986).
Group processes in computer-mediated communication. Organizational
Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37, 157-187.
Describes three experimental studies that explore the effects
of computer-mediated communication on communication efficiency,
participation, interpersonal behavior, and group choice. Comparisons
of face-to-face with computer-mediated transcripts show that participants
make fewer remarks and take longer to reach a group consensus
in computer-mediated conversations, although group participation
was more equal in computer-mediated sessions than in face-to-face
meetings. In addition, more instances of uninhibited behavior
are found in computer-mediated sessions.
Smith, J. Y., & Vanacek, M. T. (1988). Computer conferencing
and task-oriented decisions: Implications for group decision support.
Information and Management, 14, 123-132.
Researchers conduct an experiment to compare the task-oriented,
decision-making activities of students communicating face-to-face
versus a computer conference. Students must share task information
to reach a decision. Results of the experiment indicate that face-to-face
may be a more effective mode of communication than computer conferencing
for the completion of tasks.
Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1986). Reducing social context
cues: Electronic mail in organizational communication. Management
Science, 32, 1492-1512.1512.
Using research on how social context cues regulate communication,
the researchers argue that electronic mail reduces social context
cues and therefore affects communication behavior. Presents the
results of an empirical study in two divisions of a Fortune 500
company, and discusses implications of the findings for organizational
The Language of CMC
Feenberg, A. (1987). Computer conferencing and the humanities.
Instructional Science, 16, 169-186.
A humanities teacher uses examples from personal experience and
concepts from communications theory to explain the features of
computer conferencing. Author suggests that teachers can act as
moderators of computer conferences to create an on-line equivalent
of the classroom.
Levinson, P. (1986). Marshall McLuhan and computer conferencing.
IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 29,
Author argues that McLuhan's "holographic" (i.e., short,
freestanding, self-sustaining commentaries framed around a common
theme) style of writing is similar to the style of writing found
in computer conferences where participants engage in dialogues
on a central theme, usually through short series of comments.
By comparing McLuhan's writing with the writing of computer conferences,
a reader can gain a better understanding of the writing styles
Spitzer, M. (1989). Computer conferencing: An emerging technology.
In G. E. Hawisher & C. L. Selfe (Eds.), Critical perspectives
on computers and composition instruction (pp. 187-200). New
York: Teachers College Press.
Examines the advantages of computer conferencing in an academic
context. Describes some features unique to computer conferencing
that include "branching" conferences and "videotext"--the
language of computer conferencing that is linear and permanent
like print, yet conversational and temporary. Also suggests professional
and educational applications of computer conferencing.
Spitzer, M. (1986). Writing style in computer conferences. IEEE
Transactions on Professional Communications, 29, 19-22.
The text of computer conferences is temporary and therefore is
a slightly different form of communication than print medium.
There are characteristics unique to communicating via computer
conferences, such as absence of facial expressions, body language,
and other nonverbal signals, and users must adopt new strategies
in order to effectively communicate in this environment.
Mark Mabrito is Assistant Professor of English
at Purdue University-Calumet.