Understanding Expert Mediation in Online and On-site Settings:
: A Case Study

  • Gabriel Diaz Maggioli

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


In recent years, education in universities around the world has been impacted by the advent of online teaching and learning as a mode of delivery. While much research has been developed about the impact of online instruction on student learning, as well as institutional development, there is an area which has not been researched fully: that of the mediation of learning in online and onsite settings.

Using a combination of document analysis, observation, in-depth interviews and retrospective interviews, the present intrinsic case study sought to understand how an expert instructor in a post graduate program, Stephen (pseudonym), mediated his students’ learning in onsite and online environments. Furthermore, the case study sought to understand the affordances for mediation that each of these media offered the instructor.

The research findings seem to indicate that, in the context of the present project, the sociocultural construct of Activity System seems to operate somewhat differently from how it is generally depicted. The data showed that, while mediational activity oriented to the motive of conceptual development remained stable, its related operations – a consequence of the instructor’s conscious decision-making – radically changed all constituent elements in the system. In this scenario, it is proposed that a more suitable vantage point for analysis of activity systems could be advanced by taking agency as a unit of analysis. That agency, understood as intentional and reciprocal interaction which is meaningful and multimodal, seems to significantly affect the operational scripts that constitute mediational actions. Additionally, as a consequence of that agency, the expertise of the instructor emerges as processual and in flux and not as a permanent state. The interactions that evolved within an Intermental Development Zone co-constructed through designed-in and contingent mediational efforts made it evident that the Instructor is as much a learner as his students.

These results have implications for teachers in general, teacher educators and language teacher educators in particular, and for sociocultural researchers who adhere to an Activity Theory paradigm.
Date of Award1 May 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorSantiago Sanchez (Supervisor) & Gail Forey (Supervisor)

Cite this