Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Julie Coiro


Many learners have difficulty making sense of and using multiple and diverse texts and applying complex reading strategies to solve problems on the Internet in academic settings. Some research suggests that opportunities for working together may help scaffold learners’ learning and develop multilevel comprehension strategies. Despite the potential of peer interaction in educational contexts, more work is needed to explore how working with a partner to solve problems influences specific literacy outcomes, such as gains in knowledge, strategic use of comprehension processes, or comprehension outcomes. This study used a quantitative-based qualitative approach (Chi, 1997) (a) to examine the value of peer interaction by comparing the individual and pair’s online inquiry-based question generation task (online QGT) performance and results and (b) to determine the factors that influence the online QGT results. Through an independent samples t-test, this study compared the quality of the questions generated by the students and the use of strategies by individuals and pairs during the online QGT. Two sets of two-way mixed ANOVAs were used to analyze both pre–post and individual-pair differences in knowledge and the attitudes toward tasks. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to predict the quality of the outcome of the online QGT. Follow-up qualitative analysis was conducted to illuminate shared or unique patterns of frequent strategy use between individual and paired participants who performed well on the online QGT.

Results show that all participants learned content knowledge and developed positive attitudes toward online inquiry activities. Among the two groups, pair students produced higher quality joint outcomes, but there was no difference between individuals and pairs in knowledge and attitude. Another main finding of this study is that performing an inquiry task together through peer interaction activated the use of reading strategies, such as self-monitoring and meaning-making of participants. In particular, as revealed through multiple regression analyses, self-monitoring and meaning-making strategies were significant variables in predicting the quality of outcomes. The verbalization of thinking (e.g., think-aloud) and the negotiation process (e.g., peer interaction) played a major role in the activation of participants’ reading strategies and consequent cognitive development. In particular, when performing tasks together, the joint monitoring process increased the likelihood of performing tasks more successfully. Implications for educational practice, theory, and research are discussed.



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