This study Investigates the Intricacies of small group content discussion participation based on the delivery using online discussion boards as compared to face-to-face discussion (OFF). Studied were eighty eighth-grade students (N = 80) and the student population was further disaggregated into male and female sample sizes. Within male and female groupings, further investigation was performed to observe differences in participation level in content engagement between students. Student writing ample were collected and measured the learning outcomes from the content being delivered through small group online discussion or OFF communication.
Key findings based on participation: The findings of this study concluded that students participating in online discussions contribute to more time-on-task than those In the small group OFF discussions. However, the OFF discussions contributed to more word usage than the online delivery methods. Lastly, It was determined that online discussion suggested a higher rate In quality of conversations as opposed to the OFF discussions. There was no statistical significance between male and female discussion outcomes In both online and OFF small discussion on participation outcome.
Key findings based on learning outcomes: Writing samples were statistically evaluated and the data reports that there are no significant differences in the learning outcomes between the online small group discussions as compared to the small group OFF discussions. A rubric was used and the limitation in obtaining significant measures between the two discussion environments was contributed to rubric design. Literature Review: A majority of the literature review focused more on the social constructivism’s model to language learning.
Although this theory was needed to establish relevancy to the study, more review of the literature on effective online modalities compared to OFF Furthermore, the author highlights the need to capture and teach to various learning styles in the classroom. The author associates using a variety of technologies to differentiated learning styles in the classroom may contribute to greater learning. Most interestingly of the literature is the author’s connection to the learner’s engagement, zone of proximal development, and fostering of social culture and how those constructs influence language acquisition skills and student performance.
Methodology/Research Approach: This study was a mixed methods study and both qualitative and quantitative data were collected concurrently. The research problem and the researcher (a classroom teacher) were qualitatively oriented. This form of research design was appropriate because the researcher could not conclude that learning was achieved through greater participation using online discussion boards as opposed to OFF engagement. In addition, further aggregation of male and female student data was necessary to determine a relationship between male and female engagement.
Furthermore, students’ discussion responses were coded for quantitative measures as to determine frequency of engagement based on word count. From the qualitative aspect, this study had to rely on quasi-experimental design methods to construct a qualitative analysis of student discussion responses through insights, affirmations, or discrepancies. The participants of the study were not randomly assigned nor controlled by the researcher. This study had intact group of students which appears to be characteristic of a quasi-experimental design.
The data was collected and categorized which appears to be characteristic of a mixed-methods approach. The researcher provides Justification and cites many sources supporting the statistical methods in the study. Finally, the researcher does not define a particular use of statistical software used to in the qualitative portion of the study. However, researcher gives information as to what statistical analysis methods were used (but not limited to) such as a two-factor NOVA.
Findings: The study found that participation using online discussion was more engaging but students in OFF discussions had longer word count dialogue. Also reported was the nature and quality of discussion. The data reports that students participating in online discussions phrasing of language was brief and more succinct thus contributing to the overall engagement of the content. In addition, more turns in online discussion and elaborating caused students to discuss concepts more readily. On the other hand, students using OFF discussions were likely to produce more rented language and more word counts.
When male and female data were disaggregated, female students had more engagement in the OFF while males had more engagement with online discussion features. Finally, the quantitative data shows there is no significant difference in the level of learning achieved in being engaged using the online discussion features versus OFF discussions. Although this portion of the data were intriguing, but not surprising, the sample size of the students appeared to be low for a study wanting to observe student learning Conclusion and Final Thoughts:
The dissertation quality was excellent but a larger sample size would have been more effective to see if there was a statistical relationship between level of participation and student learning. Similarly, the sample size between males and females was disproportionate. However, the study contributed to the overall research in the effectiveness of online learning in secondary schools. The limited research in this area of education facilitates and warrants further data collection primarily studying online effectiveness on student learning.
The researcher and the artisans were qualitatively oriented which could be a limitation in the study potentially causing biased reviews of student’s responses. Furthermore, accessibility to participants may have caused unwarranted and additional forms of dialogue that could have skewed the data thus affecting the internal validity of the study. Lastly, this study suggests that the need to create a non-researched biased environment while studying effectiveness of online strategies. This may encourage better instrument creation and limit facilitator influence on the study outcome.