Abstract Learning and knowledge building have become critical competences for people in the knowledge society era. In this paper, we propose a sociolinguistic dialogue model for understanding how learning evolves and how cognitive process is constructed in on-line discussions. The knowledge extracted from this model is used to assess participation behavior, knowledge building and performance. The ultimate purpose is to provide effective feedback, evaluation and monitoring to the discussion process. Seven hundred students from the Open University of Catalonia in Spain participated in this study. Results showed that learning and knowledge building may be greatly enhanced by presenting selected knowledge to learners as for their particular skills exhibited during interaction. In addition, this valuable provision of information is used as a meta cognitive tool for tutors and moderators for monitoring and evaluating the discussion process more conveniently. This contribution presents our conceptual model for interaction management as well as key design guidelines and evaluation results. Implications of this study are remarked and further research directions are proposed.