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An evaluation of discussion board instructions in online courses

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The discussion board is a facet of online education that continues to confound students, educators, and researchers alike. Currently, the majority of research insists that instructors should structure and control

The discussion board is a facet of online education that continues to confound students, educators, and researchers alike. Currently, the majority of research insists that instructors should structure and control online discussions as well as evaluate such discussions. However, the existing literature has yet to compare the various strategies that instructors have identified and employed to facilitate discussion board participation. How should instructors communicate their expectations online? Should instructors create detailed instructions that outline and model exactly how students should participate, or should generalized instructions be communicated? An experiment was conducted in an online course for undergraduate students at Arizona State University. Three variations of instructional conditions were developed for use in the experiment: (1) detailed, (2) general, and (3) limited. The results of the experiment indentified a pedagogically valuable finding that should positively influence the design of future online courses that utilize discussion boards.

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  • 2012