Case Study: Student Communication in Online Classes

493 Words2 Pages
Cost and convenience entice increasing numbers of students to pursue their higher education goals through online classes. One type of student is problematic for instructors as well as for peers who depend on classmates to participate meaningfully on discussion boards and contribute fully to group projects. The "read-only" student is one who participates minimally and appears to skim over postings, contributing little substance (e.g., "I agree," or "Good point"). There is often the perception by other students that the "read-only" student is not doing his/her fair share and is not a full member of the online community. Nagel, Blegnaut and Cronje (2009) sought to investigate participation levels in online courses and whether learning took place among "lurkers" -- students who did not appear to be fully engaged in the course, as indicated by their minimal online presence. Research shows that online participation is essential to successful course completion and that better cognitive outcomes occur when students are engaged and are part of a collaborative learning community (Nagel, Blignaut, and Cronje, 2009, p. 38). The authors' study followed participants of one web-based course and attempted to correlate successful completion of the course with degree of participation. As expected, the authors found the more successful students were the ones who spent more time online reading course materials and reading and posting on the discussion board. Students with a high level of
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