“Why don’t students participate in my online discussion forums?”
It is most discouraging for instructors when students don’t participate in discussions or group work in online learning environments. It’s hard not to take it personally. However, one can take comfort in the fact that it’s a common phenomenon—and it’s not just in for-credit online classes, but it’s just as common in not-for credit classes, such as MOOCs. I’ve experienced this frustration when working closely with faculty of for-credit classes, and heard from numerous readers of this blog that face similar challenges. This motivated me to create a resource featuring the top ten reasons for student non-participation and suggestions for remedying each. We developed several methods to overcome this challenge when I worked as lead curriculum developer for online education at a small university, and many proved effective. I’ve shared these in the following resource. I selected the ten most common reasons by using data from end-of-course anonymous surveys, student interviews, anecdotal feedback from online instructors in my network, and personal experience.
Below is the resource available for viewing and download through Scribd, or click here for the file available for viewing and download in Google Docs. I wrote a three-part series last year on facilitating and evaluating online discussions that readers may find useful; I’ve included the links at the end of this post. Also included in the resources section are links to examples of rubrics for online discussions which may be helpful for instructors that plan to create rubrics tailored to one’s own online class. Comments from instructors sharing other methods and resources are welcome.
Note: The suggestions in the following resource are not solely the responsibility of the instructor—the institution offering or hosting an online course should assume responsibility for several functions including: guidance for students including technical support, instructional development support for instructors, and instructional tools and education for online instructors.
- The Method and Means to Grading Student Discussions, Online Learning Insights
- Discussion Board Assignment and Rubric Samples
- Online Discussion Boards & Rubrics, University of Illinois Springfield
- Rubric for Asynchronous Discussion Participation, by Barbara Frey
- Using Rubrics to Grade Online Discussions, e-Learning Center Northern Arizona University
- Lessons Learned from Vanderbilt’s First MOOC, Blog
- Link to template in Google Drive: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1tFlcXR_eNbZk41V3BVdXdvQUE/edit?usp=sharing