Shifting from Obligatory Discourse to Rich Dialogue: Promoting Student Interaction in Asynchronous Threaded Discussion Postings

April 2, 2014

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Asynchronous online threaded discussions are widely recognized as a tool to enhance learning in the virtual classroom.While they can serve as a mechanism for reinforcing material and promoting a deeper understanding of course content, discussion boards often lack rich and dynamic dialogue, and instead serve as a field of obligatory discourse, hasty postings, and repetitive content. This study examines measures to promote meaningful interaction in threaded online discussion postings. The researchers created an innovative, activity-based discussion exercise, known as the “suspense model,” that was utilized in two undergraduate hybrid online courses to promote student-centered learning and to increase the quality and quantity of student engagement. The researchers conducted a second discussion board activity in the same classes whereby students were provided with the problem and supporting material at the outset of the exercise. Qualitative methods were employed to measure the quality of student performance on the exercises to compare levels of interactivity. Results indicate that students more promptly and thoroughly engaged in the discussion board utilizing the suspense model, and students’ perception of the exercise was tentatively favorable as compared to its conventional counterpart.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

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