Anchored Asynchronous Online Discussions: Facilitating Engagement, Collaboration, Social Learning, and Self-Efficacy in a Blended Environment
Nimer Khalaf Alrushiedat, The Claremont Graduate University, United States
The Claremont Graduate University . Awarded
Online discussions show promise for improving students' learning. To this end, I conducted three case studies to explore the potential benefits of using anchoring in asynchronous online discussions and identify would-be effects and strategic value of anchoring for online discussions. I examined and compared anchored asynchronous online discussions (AAODs) with standard asynchronous online discussions (AODs) on students' effort, interaction and engagement, collaboration, and learning in a blended environment.
Qualitative data were obtained from students based on a “take-home” essay that examined the effects of online discussions on learning, reasons for contributing, whether students would like to use online discussions in other courses, and suggestions for change. The students' answers were coded and analyzed for differences using open, axial, and selective methods. Quantitative data in terms of participation rates and geometry (depth and breadth) of the online discussions were also acquired from students' responses and discussion logs, which helped provide insights into the quality of the interaction to permit triangulation, reduce threats to validity, and lend support to the findings.
The findings show that AAODs facilitated more and better quality participation, interaction, and engagement for undergraduates. AAODs were more likely to be perceived as helping improve understanding, problem solving, observational learning, self-efficacy, and collaboration. Still, AODs for graduate students had higher participation and interaction than AAODs. Overall, AAOD students reported more enjoyable and positive experiences. A significantly higher number of AAOD undergraduate students stated that they would like to use online discussions in future courses.
The implications for this study are notable for theory and practice. Anchoring in the online discussion can increase sharing of ideas and perspectives, enhance participation, improve engagement and collaboration, and support learning conceptions. Additionally, anchoring can improve the student's experience, enjoyment, and self- efficacy. An increase in higher comfort and confidence levels can increase participation and effort and improve understanding, comprehension, vicarious learning, and peer learning. Implementing AAODs can help overcome difficulties for students in challenging courses such as statistics, which can be achieved through increased participation, collaboration, sharing and exchanging of ideas and perspectives, thus enabling and supporting active learning.
Alrushiedat, N.K. Anchored Asynchronous Online Discussions: Facilitating Engagement, Collaboration, Social Learning, and Self-Efficacy in a Blended Environment. Ph.D. thesis, The Claremont Graduate University.
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