WWC review of this study

The effect of online discussion board frequency on student performance in adult learners

Selhorst, A. L., Bao, M., Williams, L., & Klein, E. (2017). Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 20(4) Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1165472

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    908
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: June 2020

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
College academic achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Course GPA

Participation in Online Discussion Boards vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
908 students

2.78

2.75

No

--
More Outcomes

Fail rate

Participation in Online Discussion Boards vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
908 students

7.10

8.30

No

--
Progressing in college outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Withdraw rate

Participation in Online Discussion Boards vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
908 students

7.20

9.60

No

--
More Outcomes

Academic progress

Participation in Online Discussion Boards vs. Business as usual

2 Weeks

Full sample;
908 students

76.90

78.20

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 70%
  • Race
    Asian
    1%
    Black
    37%
    Native American
    1%
    Pacific Islander
    1%
    White
    45%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    10%

Setting

The study took place in seven courses over multiple disciplines at Ashford University, an online for-profit university.

Study sample

Sample characteristics were only provided for the university student population, which is 70% female. Race/ethnicity for the student population was described as 45% white, 37% black, 10% Hispanic, 1% American Indian or Alaska Native, 1% Asian, 1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 3% two or more races, and 2% unknown. Most students are adult learners with the majority being over the age of 25.

Intervention Group

The intervention consisted of the selected intervention courses dropping the required weekly discussion boards from two to one. The weekly discussion requires students to participate in an online, open forum where they post thoughts and questions. They also must respond to other classmate posts. The courses also included weekly readings, assignments, and quizzes. Intervention course sections in this group were supplemented to ensure an equal number of points and requirements, such as additional required readings, increasing assessment points for the one remaining discussion, and increasing the length and rigor for remaining discussions.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was a business-as-usual condition that included the same courses as the intervention condition, but with the usual mandatory participation in discussion boards remaining at two per week. These course sections also included the same weekly readings, assignments, and quizzes as those in the intervention course sections.

Support for implementation

Support for implementation was not reported.

 

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