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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology


Discussion boards are tools to afford student interaction and engagement in online courses, but students often have negative attitudes toward discussion boards. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an intervention informing students of the usefulness of online discussion boards affected their attitudes toward discussion boards. The instructor randomly assigned students (N = 65) to view a video and answer an essay question on either the benefits of discussion boards (treatment) or how discussion boards were graded (control). Students in the treatment condition indicated discussion boards as being more useful than did students in the control condition, p = .04, Cohen’s d = .53, but there were no reliable differences in terms of how inherently interesting and enjoyable discussion boards were, p = .07, Cohen’s d = .44. Additionally, students reported their perceptions of the value (benefits) and costs (disadvantages) of discussion boards in open-ended items. There were no effects of the intervention on student grades on the discussion boards or exams (p = .87, Cohen’s d = .02 and p = .88, Cohen’s d = .08), but perceived utility and intrinsic value of discussion boards correlated with exam grades (r = .26, p = .04 and r = .33, p = .01). Overall, the study provides an effective intervention for improving student attitudes toward discussion boards.






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