June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Educational Research and Methods
24.896.1 - 24.896.11
Mediators of Participation in Online Discussion Blind SubmissionIntroductionOnline asynchronous discussion forums have become an essential medium for communication inhigher education, in part due to their integration into course management systems that are nowcentrally supported by many colleges and universities. The purpose of this study was tounderstand the mediators that both contribute to and inhibit student participation in a help-seeking course discussion forum, in a computer science course. Participation in coursediscussion forums is important to study because it may negate factors that appear to affectstudent retention rates: poor performance in class, loss of interest in the subject, and not feeling asense of inclusion in and identity with the department or program of study; factors thatparticularly affect women and minority students.PedagogyStudies of participation commonly feature statistical techniques that relate participationfrequency with performance, but these analyses ignore underlying reasons for participation whenit is a choice. To investigate mediators of participation, we developed a new survey instrumentcalled the Forum Participation Mediators Instrument (FPMI). The purpose of FPMI is to assistin discerning the underlying reasons for student participation, or lack of participation, in coursediscussion forums. The survey looks at the many factors that may contribute to or inhibit studentparticipation, examines student perception of satisfaction, and explores alternative methods ofhelp-seeking. Four scaled questions (Q1-Q4), with 8, 13, 4, and 10 subscales, respectively, andthree open questions (Q5,Q6) were decided upon. Likert-type scale response anchors were basedon Vagias (2006).MethodologyThe study took place in the context of an undergraduate computer science course at [auniversity]. The course used a question and answer discussion board with separate forums foreach project (4) and for theoretical/concept questions (1). Participation frequency of each studentwas linked to student FPMI response. Types of participation included initial postings (usually,but not exclusively questions), responses, and question views. The instrument was administeredto 173 students at the end of the fall semester in 2010. Forty-three students responded (25%response rate). A discussion of validity is included.Data AnalysisAn analysis of all mediators, satisfaction and help-seeking alternatives is reported on.Correlations were performed between mediators and help-seeking behaviors, and betweenparticipation and help-seeking behaviors.Scholarly SignificanceResults showed that mediators that influence participation were social, while those that inhibitparticipation most often were due to choosing alternative help-seeking venues, and sharinginformation among team members, even while satisfaction with the course forum was high. Theresults, which possibly extend to online knowledge sharing environments generally, suggest thatstudent participation depends on a variety of malleable factors.References (Sample)Auld, D., Blumberg, F.C., and Clayton, K. (2010). Linkages between motivation, self-efficacy, self-regulated learning and preferences for traditional learning environments or those with an online component. Digital Culture & Education, http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/uncategorized/dce1020_auld_html_ 2010.Bandura, A. (2001). Guide for Constructing Self-Efficacy Scales, http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/014-BanduraGuide2006.pdf.Brouse, C.H., Basch, C.E., LeBlanc, M., McKnight, K.R. Lei, T. (2010). College students’ academic motivation: Differences by gender, class, and source of payment. College Quarterly, Winter 2010 - Volume 13 No 1.Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M. and Seale, J. (2004) ‘Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design’, Computers & Education, vol. 43, nos. 1–2, pp. 17–33.Davies, J. and Graff, M. (2005). ‘Performance in e-learning: online participation and student grades’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 657–63.Elias, S.M. & Loomis, R.J. (2002). Using an academic self-efficacy scale to address university major persistence, Journal of College Student Development, Jul/Aug 2000.Taylor (2010) Constructivist On-Line Learning Environment Survey (COLLES) web site, http://otl.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2000/taylor.html.Taylor, P. and Maor, D. (2000). Assessing the efficacy of online teaching with the Constructivist On-Line Learning Environment Survey. In A. Herrmann and M.M. Kulski (Eds), Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-4 February 2000. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.Vagias, Wade M. (2006). Likert-type scale response anchors. Clemson International Institute for Tourism & Research Development, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. Clemson University, http://www.hehd.clemson.edu/PRTM/trmcenter/scale.pdf.
Shaw, E., & Kim, J., & Yoo, J. (2014, June), Mediators of Participation in Online Discussions Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22829
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