City Research Online

What influences student participation in asynchronous online discussions

Abbott, S. (2013). What influences student participation in asynchronous online discussions. Learning at City Journal, 3(1), pp. 33-44.


Asynchronous online discussions are widely used in online and blended learning courses. Participation by adult learners can be encouraged by the contributions of teachers, and when online groups are given well-structured tasks that are assessed. The introduction of such discussions to a pre-existing short course in mentorship for qualified health care professionals offered an opportunity to compare participation by different groups studying concurrently. This was done by counting numbers of student contributions to twenty-four different online groups, regardless of length or content. This showed that the contribution of teachers was not an important factor in influencing student participation, though individual students who contributed prolifically tended to encourage their fellow group members to contribute more. These results may not be generalizable: the course was short, the discussions focused on a well-structured and assessed task, and the learners were mature.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: Professional Services > Learning, Enhancement and Development > Learning at City Journal
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