Proposal Title

Determining the Rigor of Online Course Discussion Boards

Track

Research Proposal / Online Learning

Proposal Abstract

The rigor of an online course is largely determined by the type of student engagement and resulting learning outcomes. Student engagement occurs largely through online discussion boards. In order to assess course rigor, a study was conducted to determine the nature of students’ participation in an online discussion board. In particular, the depth, complexity, and reflective thinking in posts were studied. This session will focus both on the implications of findings for (1) facilitating student engagement in online coursework, as well as (2) how to assess the rigor of online coursework to justify the delivery format.

Proposal Description

As teacher preparation coursework moves to entirely online formats, questions arise about the rigor of this alternate mode of delivery. Predominantly, concerns include suspicions about the nature of student engagement in an online environment. Along with skepticism about meaningful learning outcomes, critics of online course delivery doubt the rigor of teaching and learning without face to face meetings.

The rigor of an online course is largely determined by the type of student engagement that occurs along with resulting learning outcomes. Student engagement occurs largely through online discussion boards. Although best practices exist in building community and engaging students, variance in online course design and implementation limits the generalizability of existing research regarding rigor. Therefore, the development of evaluative research that assesses student impact of online teaching and learning is recommended.

In order to assess course rigor, a study was conducted to determine the nature of students’ participation in an online discussion board using course assignments. Student responses to weekly discussion board prompts were downloaded and studied. Postings were analyzed for depth and complexity using an existing conceptual framework. Additionally, all student postings were scored using a rubric that assesses the relationship of prompts to learning outcomes. Finally, students’ perceptions of learning outcomes were collected with the Questionnaire for Reflective Thinking. Together the findings represent course rigor.

The nature of discussion posts was investigated. Findings describe the nature of rigorous learning. The correlational data that represent the relationships between student engagement practices and learning outcomes may be used to guide successive course design and implementation. The research methodology and design utilized will serve as a model for replication across online coursework. Therefore, this session will focus on a discussion of the implications for best practices in facilitating rigorous student engagement and learning outcomes as well as the importance of investigating rigor.

Session Format

Presentation Session

Location

Room 3

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Mar 30th, 3:00 PM Mar 30th, 3:45 PM

Determining the Rigor of Online Course Discussion Boards

Room 3

The rigor of an online course is largely determined by the type of student engagement and resulting learning outcomes. Student engagement occurs largely through online discussion boards. In order to assess course rigor, a study was conducted to determine the nature of students’ participation in an online discussion board. In particular, the depth, complexity, and reflective thinking in posts were studied. This session will focus both on the implications of findings for (1) facilitating student engagement in online coursework, as well as (2) how to assess the rigor of online coursework to justify the delivery format.