Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not much success engaging in discussion group!

So I discussed in my class (Fundamentals of Biology) the importance of discussion group after the first exam results were posted and encouraged them to be more active in posting questions and also in answering them so they can get help from each other as well as from me beyond my office hours. However, no questions were posted. This Tuesday they were scheduled to take quiz 2. So last week I reminded again to post their questions. I was hoping a busy discussion group but to my surprise, only one question was posted and nobody answered, which I ended up answering.

So this remains to be the challenge how can I reinforce the benefit of online discussion group and connect them together. I know some students are getting together for group studies but when it comes to posting questions online, they seem to freeze. I think it seems to be the time issue. Based on my prior experience with ePortfolio, my feeling is that they will do anything that will translate directly into some credit in their grade. I look forward to any suggestions.


  1. We can work on this tomorrow. Maybe if you could get a tutor to monitor your site?

  2. Yes. I know what you mean. I need to address a similar problem tomorrow. I like Jason's idea of getting a tutor to monitor the site.

  3. @Karim:

    Students LOVE extra credit, so one LAGCC Biology professor who attended the Designed for Learning seminar a few years ago came with the following type of prompt to encourage student participation:

    "Read Chapter 13 of our Biology textbook and post one question you would like for me to answer before our test next Wednesday in the forum “Professor K’s Office.” You will get 3 extra points in the test if you answer a classmate’s question correctly before I do."

    Then he announced that he would be "live" accepting questions on Friday night from 10-11pm but would also check once a day on Sat-Sun-Mon-Tues before the test.

    He reported large participation from students.

  4. I agree with Ximena that a grade incentive--however small--can be helpful in drawing students to the site. Another possibility might be for you to bait the site with exclusive, "discussion board-only" study notes, or hints for upcoming exams, etc., so that students will be motivated to sign in. Then, once they're there, they'll be more inclined to interact with one another. However you accomplish it, you ultimately need to create an environment in which students go to the site as a matter of routine participation in the course; otherwise, when it feels external to the central content of the course, or when it feels optional, they'll treat it as such.