University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Categorising Asynchronous Discussion Threads: Improving the Quality of Student Learning.

Barnett, Anthony (2014) Categorising Asynchronous Discussion Threads: Improving the Quality of Student Learning. In: Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, 2nd-3rd July 2014, Aston University, Birmingham. (Unpublished)

HEA conference poster 2014.pdf

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Short abstract
Blended learning approaches incorporate the value of both face-to-face teaching sessions and distance learning. The generative potential of asynchronous discussion thread categorisation is being utilised to engage students in a reflective process aimed at improving the quality of their learning experience.

Details of the poster: The poster will present the follow up study to the original research that was conducted in 2011 and reported in the Worcester Journal of Learning and Teaching entitled ‘Blended learning: Evaluation of the WebCT Blackboard virtual learning environment in relation to asynchronous discussion and student assignments.’ The poster will include a background to this small scale research. A main feature of the poster will be the visual display of a range of models of asynchronous discussion threads and associated interpretations.

Problems addressed: Visual representation of more complex discussion threads has been approached through colour coding within both linear and aggregated views.

Research issues: The main research issue confronted in the initial 2011 study was the need to combine both quantitative and qualitative data within a predominantly generative format. Similarly, the current research aims to be a foundation for students developing their own strategies as part of a blended learning module. The data therefore needs to be presented in a way that is both accessible and evocative.

Research methods: The data included posted messages to the online asynchronous discussion within a blended learning module; the results of a questionnaire relating to the students’ use of the star rating feature within Blackboard and; student assignments in which students evaluated their contribution to the asynchronous discussion and use of the VLE. The approach to categorising discussion threads was a qualitative adaptation of the social network analysis reported by Jimoyannis & Angelaina (2012 in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

Preliminary findings:
• A range of models describing the asynchronous discussion threads have been identified and given the following labels: passive facilitator, dominant facilitator, multiple facilitators discussion, balanced discussion, cliqued discussion, formulaic discussion, self-referencing discussion, multiple sub-threads discussion.
• One of the findings related to the questionnaire: Although students used a wider range of criteria for allocating star ratings, these criteria typically related to various dimensions of added value.
• In relation to the student assignments: One of the findings is that many of the students have used Bloom’s digital taxonomy rubric to influence their approach to posting messages. This was to be expected as the previous 2011 research study was discussed within the module. Assignments have also shown students using alternative theoretical perspectives to support their analysis.

Conference theme links:
Blended learning approaches relate directly to the strand ‘The future is connected’ because of being a form of technology enhanced learning.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: asynchronous, discussion, blended learning
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Related URLs:
Copyright Info: Anthony Barnett
Depositing User: Anthony Barnett
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2014 14:15
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:04

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