Fu-Yun, Y., & Yen-Ting, Y. (2014). To see or not to see: Effects of online access to peer-generated questions on performance. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(3), 27-39.
First appearing in the Journal of Educational Technology & Society, the article entitled “To See or Not to See: Effects of Online Access to Peer-Generated Questions on Performance” by educational researchers Fu-Yun Yu and Yen-Ting Yang closely look at the outcomes of scholastic peer-generated queries. Specifically, the authors examined junior high school aged students over a period of several weeks and had the students utilize an online format for question and answer interaction between student peers. Ultimately, after statistical analysis of the results over a six-week period of time, the authors could find no statistical differentiation between the students who had access to online peer support and those who did not. The subject that the students were learning and which was utilized in this research was English. The researchers did find, though, that the students who had access to the online peer support during the six-week study did experience a significant increase in question generation performance. Overall, as an educational tool, online peer support was recommended by the authors as an important tool for English language learning.

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The results of this study speak directly to attention theory in the sense that shifts of focus need to be present to facilitate learning. According to educational attention theorist John Kruschke (2000), most students can continue to shift focus in a way that allows for the learning of new information without forgetting the already learned, or old, information (p. 2). This is important because the adaptiveness of this process is what creates a comprehensive mastering of new information.

Because attention theory carries a broad connotation, it is often specified into more narrowly defined categories such as multimodal theory, attenuation theory, the Deutsch and Deutsch theory, or the filter theory. The authors of this particular research article do not specify which attention theory they are specifically connotating, but they do seem to lean toward the attenuation theory with the interpretation of their outcomes. For example, the authors report that having the peer questioning available as an unattended stimuli seemed to elicit more of a response from the students that did the direct question and answer method, which forced students to participate on a level they may or may not have been ready to participate at. With the predominant model of teachers posing questions in the classroom and waiting for students to respond, the authors report, the comprehension of the English language and the cognitive abilities of the students were not as greatly impacted nor did they have as successful of an outcome as when the unattended stimuli, or the online peer support for questions and answers were available to them.

This particular research article did an excellent job of quantifying its data. A multivariate analysis of covariance technique (MANCOVA) was used to test for differences between the various methods of learning English, which included teacher-led question and answer sessions as well as the availability of peer-accessible questioning. Post-tests and school-wide exams were two of the mechanisms of measurement between the test groups and the control group, and a school-wide exam was given and scored as a covariate prior to beginning the study. The statistics involved in this study were presented in table format with ample directives for understanding.

Additionally, utilizing the frameworks of not only attention theory to explicate their findings regarding student question generation (SQG) and general question generation (QG), but also the frameworks of observational learning theory and the concept of scaffolding as well, the authors were able to offer a comprehensive, well-organized set of observations and hypotheses that included an admitted failure of the hypothesis that peer generated questions regarding performance.