Discourse Analysis of Web Texts: Initial Results from a Telementoring Project for Middle School Girls

Brian Drayton and Joni Falk
Education, Communication and Information, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 71-104. 2003


The article analyzes data from two small web-based communities created as part of the educational project “Eyes to the Future.” This telementoring program for girls and women creates teams of three middle school students, one high school student, and one woman scientist. Teams last for 10-15 weeks, and explore issues of transition to high school, the life of working scientists, and various other science, educational, and social themes. Project data from two contrasting teams are analyzed, and the analysis suggests the value that discourse-analytic techniques can have for understanding some aspects of the dynamics of electronic communities. Notions such as register, voice, cohesion, participant patterns, and participant style provide a theoretically based way to describe and analyze both role constitution and interactions within web communities, which extends the kinds of analysis hitherto usually applied to web texts.