Volume 10, Issue 1, Spring 2011

Understanding Students’ Online Interaction: Analysis of Discussion Board Postings

Liyan Song
Scot W. McNary
Towson University


The purpose of this paper was to report on the findings of a study examining students’ online interaction patterns. The context of the study was a graduate online class delivered via Blackboard®. The primary data for the study came from students’ discussion board postings, online learning journals, and course grades. Various data analysis methods such as descriptive and regression analyses were utilized to examine students’ evolving interaction patterns and different interaction patterns among students in the same class. Results of the study indicated that there was considerable variability in students’ postings. Students’ postings were found mostly heterogeneous across students and across modules. The study suggested no correlation between the number of posts and students’ success.

An Activity Theory Approach to Analyze Barriers to a Virtual Management Information Systems (MIS) Curriculum

Suhair Jaradat
University of Jordan, Amman

Ahmad Qablan
Areej Barham
Hashemite University, Zarqa


This paper explains how the activity theory is used as a framework to analyze the barriers to a virtual Management Information Stream (MIS) Curriculum in Jordanian schools, from both the sociocultural and pedagogical perspectives. Taking the activity system as a unit of analysis, this study documents the processes by which activities shape and are shaped by their different levels of context. Through qualitative data collection methodologies, the study explored the various contextual and personal imbalances that appeared while implementing the MIS at schools. At the end of the study, several suggestions and recommendation are offered to enhance the curriculum and its implementation at schools.

Gender Differences in Student Discourse on Discussion Board and Blogs: An Instructor’s Quest to Create a Level Playing Field in a Hybrid Classroom

Crystal Machado
Indiana University of Pennsylvania


The widespread use of innovative web-based technology in recent years has led to significant changes in the way students learn, communicate, and interact with one another. This exploratory single subject Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) study, conducted in a hybrid graduate course, was designed to determine if web-based tools like Discussion Board and Weblogs afforded pedagogical benefits, and if these benefits extended equally to both males and females in the classroom. Also, it was used to code a total of 1,373 Discussion Board posts and 109 Weblog posts. Some interesting gender-related patterns were found. The findings, though not generalizable, are illustrative of the challenges instructors can face when experimenting with web-based technology in higher education classrooms. This study adds to the growing body of classroom research devoted to gender and online learning.

Current Practices and Needs Assessment of Instructors in an Online Masters Degree in Education for Healthcare Professionals: A First Step to the Development of Quality Standards

Kadriye O. Lewis
Raymond C. Baker
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Denise H. Britigan
Walden University


Instructional quality of online delivery is still a common concern. Quality assurance requires a comprehensive framework of several perspectives of learners’ and instructors’ needs including critical analysis of their teaching and learning practices with the course technology platform. Using online surveys and semi-structured interviews with 10 instructors and 29 students, this case study investigated current instructional practice, needs, and achievements of the instructors and students in an Online Masters Program for Healthcare Professionals. Although the findings indicated little real concern about the program quality, a majority of our instructors and students still believed that initiating specific course design and teaching standards in our program would maximize instructors’ and students’ performance in our future courses. The process we followed in this study encouraged a helpful dialogue about program expectations, including training expectations of instructors and course design/development and teaching standards (best practices) for the online master’s program. We became more conscious that applying standards successfully requires more support from the instructors.

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