threaded discussions

15 08 2009

Examining threaded discussions in online graduate courses

timmolseedTim Molseed, Black Hills State University

The context is the students doing their capstone portfolios. The purpose of the study was twofold: to better facilitate engagement as a learning community in supporting, motivating and encouraging each other in the process of developing capstone portfolios, and to better facilitate graduate students to engage as a community of learners in analyzing, critiquing and making suggestions regarding their capstone portfolios.

Study construction: examine the social and emotional respnses [opinion/evaluate, anecdotal/reflective], and to examine task responses defined as either content or style.

Hypotheses:

  1. the number of social/emotional peer review response types will differ significantly from the task oriented peer review response types
  2. of the task oriented response types that deal specifically with issues of content will differ significantly from those dealing with issues of style.

Findings: social/emotional 42%, task 51% and other 7%.

Suggestions for instruction:

  • need for the intentional building of social/emotional interactions balanced with group maturity and history
  • defining ‘meaningful responses’ to engage students in task comments
  • modeling of expectations using both public and private forums. The instructor’s role needs to be one of restrained response.  Using private responses from instructor to student is very important because we don’t want to influence other opinions. Public forum responses are only if they have significance to the group.
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