Does the discussion help? The impact of a formally assessed online discussion on final student results

Stuart Palmer, Dale Holt, Sharyn Bray
2008 British Journal of Educational Technology  
While there is agreement that participation in online asynchronous discussions can enhance student learning, it has also been identified that there is a need to investigate the impact on student course performance of participation in online discussions. This paper presents a case study based on an undergraduate engineering management unit employing a formally assessed online discussion area. It was observed that while many students read a significant number of discussion postings, generally,
more » ... posting of new and reply messages occurred at the minimum level required to qualify for the assignment marks. Based on correlation and multiple regression analysis, it was observed that two variables were significantly related to a student's final unit mark -prior academic ability and the number of new postings made to the online discussion. Each new posting contributed three times as much to the final unit mark as its nominal assessment value, suggesting that the work in preparing their new discussion postings assisted students in the completion of a range of assessable tasks for the unit. The number of postings read was not significantly correlated with the final unit mark, suggesting that passive lurking in this online discussion did not significantly contribute to student learning outcomes.  the time between postings for reflective thought that might lead to more considered responses than those possible in face-to-face situations (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 1999);  for off-campus students, two-way communication can be enhanced, reducing student isolation and making possible dialogue with other students (Kirkwood & Price, 2005);
doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00780.x fatcat:sudhpyx4cze6fbpux7nvbhjoye