Identifying Leaders in Virtual Communities

Identifying leaders through Socratic questioning, text mining, and reflection.
Made by Center for Teaching Quality

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The educator uses a variety of Socratic questioning techniques to elicit responses that are then text-mined to identify leaders in a virtual community.

Method Components

The six Socratic questioning techniques

For more information, see the Resources section.

  1. Questions for clarification (example: “Why do you say that?”)
  2. Questions that probe assumptions (example: “What could we assume instead?”)
  3. Questions that probe reasons and evidence (example: “What would be an example?”)
  4. Questions about viewpoints and assumptions (example: “What would be an alternative?”)
  5. Questions that probe implications and consequences (example: “What generalizations can you make?”)
  6. Questions about the question (example: “What was the point of this question?”)

The educator utilizes text mining to identify trends in responses to identify leaders of the virtual community. Trends can be aggregated through a variety of qualitative methods, including word frequency count, opinion by geographic area, content area, or other stakeholder factors, to determine areas of expertise or interest.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Socratic method
Crafting rich questions that encourage multiple directions of thinking and open the way for follow-up questions is a skill learned with practice.

Text mining

Large-scale data analytics uses back-end statistics and analysis to inform consumer trends, but opinion or text mining focuses on observations of written or video archives and can inform future directions for work. Analysis can be presented in a pivot chart, running observation list, Wordle, or spreadsheet.

  • Sentiment Analysis and Opinion Mining. Morgan & Claypool Publishers, May 24, 2012.


Socratic questioning
Developing Socratic questioning is a critical piece of enacting community voice. To get quality data, we need questions that are rich and open; by listening and asking follow-up questions, the facilitator works to help community members think about their own background knowledge and ideas for the future.

Text mining

Text mining is an entire segment of big data work that can pull word choices, numbers, or other results from the back end of an application to provide support for developing a community. It may be as simple as a facilitator sifting and organizing data using a Wordle or open-source visualization tool to find high-frequency words or identify patterns in location clusters, work specializations, or some other factor. Opinion or sentiment analysis includes looking for opinions and similar ideas in a cross-section of an asynchronous chat conversation to allow reflection and organization of ideas to focus on future work. Although recorded video conversations can be analyzed this way, this micro-credential focuses on text mining for ease of analysis.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a Proficient or Exemplary evaluation in all three categories for Part 2 and Passing scores for each of the questions in Parts 1, 3, and 4.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit)

  • Activity Description: Please explain the process you used to build engaging, open-ended questions that extended the conversation and elicited the ideas and opinions of the participants.

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Submit 1–3 screenshots of any qualitative analysis (word counts, charts, or notes) that demonstrates open, rich questions that can elicit multiple points of view and utilize response strategies. These artifacts should provide evidence of an individual’s leadership interests or areas of expertise. Please also explain the results of your opinion analysis in identifying potential leaders within the virtual community. (250–400 words)

See a guide and CTQ sample analysis for this submission here:

Your artifact submission will be assessed based on the following rubric. You must earn a score of Exemplary or Proficient for each component in this portion to earn the micro-credential.

Part 3. Participant reflection

Ask one identified leader for a reflection of the following question (200-word limit):

  • How did the questions and the conversation allow you and others to think more deeply about your role as a leader in the community?

Part 4. Facilitator reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as guidance
(250–400 words for each response):

  • How might your approach to identification of leaders in this micro-credential inform your future work?
  • How effective were your questions at discovering trends or ideas for discussion? Cite evidence from your artifact to support your claim.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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