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P. Greathouse1, B. Eisenbach2, S. Scott1

1Tennessee Technological University (UNITED STATES)
2University of South Florida (UNITED STATES)
The use of technology within the collegiate classroom has been viewed as a positive step in furthering student learning. In particular, online discussion boards have received considerable attention within recent research (Berge & Muilenburg, 2000; Blignaut & Trollip, 2003; Ferdig & Roehler, 2003; Knowlton & Knowlton, 2001; Li, 2003; Rourke & Anderson, 2002; Wickstrom, 2003). There are a wide array of studies focused on reporting students’ perceptions of technology as an effective learning tool (Alon 2003; Krentle & Willis-Flurry, 2005; Li, 2007; Nicholson & Bond, 2003) and studies focused on teachers’ perception of technology as effective learning tools (Cope, 2002; Li, 2007; Yuen, 2006; Yuen & Ma, 2008). However, there is a limited amount of empirical research that links the use of technology as a learning tool to actual student performance.

Some researchers suggest that educators are critical to the success of an online discussion (Blignaut & Trollip, 2003; Ferdig & Roehler, 2003–04). Others claim educators should assume a more passive role, and allow students the opportunity to construct their own knowledge (Li, 2003; Rourke & Anderson, 2002). However, there is limited empirical evidence to support the paucity of research conducted on on-line discussion board peer response in the absence of a teacher and actual enhanced learning. Therefore, the objective of this study was to fill this gap in the literature through an investigation of the relationship between the use of technology and actual, and perceived, learning.

Findings of this mixed methods study indicate that the classroom discussion board activity denotes a student posting and peer response. Yet, results of the researcher-designed rubric demonstrates the peer response post does not impact student perceived learning or actual learning. Essentially, it implies that while the instructor is assessing student learning through peer response and online discussion, the task is rather artificial in nature for the leaner. The implications calling to question the nature, and role of online discussion expectations within the learning environment.

In this presentation, participants will engage in a discussion of the role of discussion board postings in furthering student perceived, and actual learning. Presenters will share the findings of a mixed methods study regarding student engagement in a collegiate discussion board activity, and discuss implications of the research, and hopes for future research regarding the role of this single technological tool as an enhancement to classroom instruction.