Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

The new /given index: A measure to explore, evaluate, and monitor eDiscourse in educational conferencing applications

Dana Raymond Welts, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation addresses the limited measures available to conduct comparative linguistic analysis across spoken, written and eDiscourse environments and proposes a new measure—the new/given index. The new/given construct of Halliday and Clark is reviewed as well as the relevant literature of eDiscourse and other persistent electronic communication. A data set of writing samples, face to face meeting transcripts, and electronic conferences is assembled and used to test and validate the new/given index. The data are reviewed and scored by raters for new and given material and the rater scores are compared with the score generated by the new/given index software parser. The data suggest that the new/given index reliably reports the presence of new and given information in processed text and provides a measure of the efficiency with which this text is resolved or grounded in discourse. The data are further processed by the software parser and aggregate new/given indices for the data types are generated. This analysis reveals that statistically significant differences between the new/give index of written text, transcriptions of face to face discussion, and eDiscourse conferencing transcripts exist. Finally, a qualitative analysis based on interviews with the creators of the data set explore their experience in the eDiscourse conferencing environment and the relation between individual behavior in a group problem-solving situation and an individuals new/given index in an eDiscourse environment. The study concludes with suggestions for the application of the new/given index in eDiscourse and other persistent electronic communication environments.

Subject Area

Educational software

Recommended Citation

Welts, Dana Raymond, "The new /given index: A measure to explore, evaluate, and monitor eDiscourse in educational conferencing applications" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056288.