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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/975
- Sage, guide or ghost? The effect of instructor intervention on student participation in online discussion forums
- Mazzolini, Margaret; Maddison, Sarah
- When facilitating asynchronous discussion forums, should online instructors be encouraged to take a prominent 'sage on the stage' role, a more constructivist 'guide on the side' role, or an ultra low profile as 'the ghost in the wings'? There is no shortage of anecdotal advice on how to conduct discussion forums in online education, but there appears to be very little research available so far to back that advice up. In this study of an online astronomy program with approximately 200 participants, we investigated the way that the rate at which instructors post and how often those instructors initiate discussions correlate with several variables--student posting rates, lengths of discussion threads, and student survey responses concerning their educational experience. We found that the ways in which instructors post to forums can influence students' forum discussions and perceptions, but not always in expected ways. On average, frequent posting by instructors did not lead to more student postings, and the more the instructors posted, the shorter were the lengths of the discussions overall. On the other hand, while most students rated their educational experience highly, instructors who posted frequently were judged on average to be more enthusiastic and expert than those who did not. Clearly the number of student postings and the rate at which instructors participate are not simple indicators of the quality of forum discussions. We need to find more subtle measures of the effectiveness of asynchronous discussion forums for learning and teaching.
- Publication type
- Journal article
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. School of Biophysical Science and Electrical Engineering. Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
- Computers & education, Vol. 40, no. 3 (Apr. 2003), pp. 237-253
- Publication year
- Pergamon-Elsevier Science
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.