How to define, operationalize, and improve quality of online interpersonal interaction: A scoping review

Published: 24 June 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/76b9g34d8h.1


In this scoping review, we reviewed the higher education literature for quality of online interaction definitions, operationalizations, and interventions, as well as for reported recommendations and implications of studying this construct. Our literature search resulted in 1408 studies. After screening, 80 were included. From these studies, we extracted general information, as well as definitions, operationalizations, interventions, and recommendations and implications. Dataset1 contains the general information that has been extracted from the studies. This dataset is the simplified version that was used for analysis. Dataset2 contains the codes that were attributed to extracted information in regards to definitions, operationalizations, interventions, and recommendations and implications. Most codes of this dataset are qualitative and therefore the result of qualitative analysis. Multiple coding rounds took place.


Steps to reproduce

1. Search PsycINFO, ERIC, Embase, Web of Science, PubMed for ("quality of interaction*” OR ”quality of online interaction*” OR ”interaction* quality” OR ”quality of social interaction*” OR "quality of discuss*” OR ”quality of online discuss*” OR ”discuss* quality”) AND ("online" OR ”distance” OR ”virtual” OR ”digital” OR ”remote” OR “computer”) adapted to each of the databases. Our search took place in 2022. 2. Screen abstracts and, subsequently, full-text papers. Included articles have to be available full-text in English, they have to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, they have to refer to online higher education (including undergraduate education, graduate education, and continuing education in the field of expertise of the learner), and they have to refer to quality of interpersonal interaction (in-between students, or between students and their teachers). 3. Perform reference screening of the included studies to find any other relevant studies. 4. Extract the following information from the included articles: title, authors, publication year, country of study, population of learners (undergraduate or graduate), topic of study, learning context described in the study (online, blended, or mixed education; asynchronous or synchronous; the smallest group size in which interaction was reported to take place; reported familiarity of students; closed or open course), types of interaction the article focuses on, text selections that include definitions of Quality of online interaction (QOI), text selections that describe operationalizations of QOI, text selections reporting performed or recommended attempts to improve QOI, text selections reporting implications or recommendations when studying QOI. 5. Analyze the data. General information and operationalizations were descriptively analyzed. Definitions and interventions were thematically analyzed. The implications and recommendations were analyzed with a template analysis. Please contact the first author for all questions in regards to the data or for requesting supplementary materials. Abbreviations: s-s = student-student (interaction) s-t = student-teacher (interaction) s-c = student-content (interaction) PII = purposeful interpersonal interaction qoi = quality of online interaction lms = learning management system td = transactional distance coi = community of inquiry srl = self-regulated learning


Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum


Higher Education, Literature Review, Online Interaction, Online Social Interaction, Online Learning, Online Education