Is Lurking Working? The role of non-assessed discussion boards in an online enabling program literacies subject.
The role of non-assessable discussion boards in an online enabling program literacies subject.
Students’ engagement online is not always visible. This presents challenges for assessing learning in an informal formative way and for diagnosing potential problems prior to assessment submission. Such challenges informed this small exploratory study which aimed to analyse students’ online behaviour and seek students’ perspectives of their engagement in online learning activities in a tertiary enabling program. In the academic literacies subject analysed in this study, online discussion boards host the dialogues and weekly tutorial activities that on campus students participate in within their physical classroom environment. However, as these online discussion boards are not assessed, student participation is low and wanes further over the academic session. Given the low student participation, this study analysed online students’ use of the discussion boards to determine whether the functionality was perceived as valuable. Student’s use of the non-assessable discussion boards was then correlated with final grades to determine whether posting, replying to messages, and viewing forums, supported students’ learning as reflected in their grades. The study found a high correlation between students posting and reading posts, with their final grades. Further, whilst not all students were visible on the discussion boards, this did not devalue the pedagogical role of this learning site functionality from students’ perspectives. What may be described as legitimate peripheral participation (Lave & Wenger, 1991) or lurking (Beaudoin, 2002; Taylor, 2002) was perceived by students as beneficial.
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