To determine the level of collaboration, social presence, and satisfaction with online discussion assignments.
Use of Theory or Research
With advances in technology, student driven-learning demands, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, more higher-education institutions are offering asynchronous online courses. While highly effective, engagement is challenging. Graded student discussions are often incorporated to facilitate student engagement.
Students (n = 74; 84% Health Science majors) enrolled in a 16-week asynchronous online undergraduate life cycle nutrition course (Spring 2021).
During the first 3-weeks, all students completed 1 video-only and 1 written-only discussion assignment before being equally randomized into a video-only (VO), written-only (WO), or written-video only (WVO) discussion group. Each group completed 6 discussions over 9-weeks on nutrition-related topics requiring an initial and response post. WVO students completed 3 written and 3 verbal discussion assignments in alternating format.
Consenting students (n = 25 pre-; 26-post study) voluntarily completed the Collaborative Learning (CL), Social Presence (SP), and Satisfaction (SATIS) questionnaires during week 4 (n = 8 WO, 8 VO, 9 WVO) and weeks 13-15 (n = 6 WO, 7 VO, 13 WVO). Comparison of means, descriptive statistics, and Pearson χ2 analysis were conducted (IRB # 2012010996).
No significant differences were observed between or within groups for CL, SP, and SATIS scores. However, the CL score increased the most in the WO compared to the VO group (12.8%-vs-3.3%) while SATIS scores increased 2.5% in the WVO and 9.7% in the WO groups but decreased 12.4% in the VO group. SP declined in all groups with the WVO group decreasing the most at 28.6%.
Video assignments are a viable option for student engagement, even though this pilot study was unable to match student's pre- and post-scores. This data suggests a decreased trend in satisfaction with video-only compared to written-only or a combination of the written-video in discussion forums, but larger studies are needed to further address this question.