Title: Improving academic outcomes: does participating in online discussion forums payoff?

Authors: Charles Carceller; Shane Dawson; Lori Lockyer

Addresses: School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, 2522, Australia ' Learning and Teaching Unit, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, South Australia, 5001, Australia ' School of Education, Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Balaclava Road, North Ryde, NSW, 2109, Australia

Abstract: This paper reports on a study investigating the potential relationship between a student's discussion forum activity and their academic performance. The study also examined the influence of the delivery method (i.e. blended or fully online) on the impact that forum participation may have on a student's final mark. To address these aims, student forum participation data and teaching delivery method were extracted from the universities Learning Management System (LMS). The analysis identified that students who actively participate in their teaching unit's discussion forum are more likely to achieve a higher final mark than those that do not participate. It was also observed that the resulting effect of participation in a teaching unit's online discussion forum was greater for a blended delivery modal than for fully online teaching units. This study affirms how learning analytics data derived from online discussion forums can be proactively applied to enhance teaching and learning practice.

Keywords: learning analytics; online discussion forums; academic achievement; social networking; social capital; online learning; blended learning; higher education; e-learning; electronic learning; student performance; teaching delivery methods; learning management systems; LMS.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2013.059087

International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 2013 Vol.5 No.2, pp.117 - 132

Received: 30 Jan 2013
Accepted: 24 Sep 2013

Published online: 03 Feb 2014 *

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