A common activity in online courses that allows for student interaction is the asynchronous discussion; however, discussions do not inherently lead to meaningful engagement among students. This study explores how the moves that students make in their initial discussion posts influence the emotional engagement of their peers in response posts. 1500 asynchronous online discussion messages were collected from an undergraduate online course offered at a western state university. 608 online discussion threads were analyzed to determine how the characteristics of initial posts are associated with the engagement in peer responses. Six characteristic variables from initial posts were identified and analyzed. Density scores for social presence categories and indicators were calculated as the measure of the emotional engagement in the response posts. Results suggest that three characteristic variables in initial posts significantly influence the emotional engagement of peers in the response posts.

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