Volume 3, Issue 1, Zhang Ulyshen

Learner Engagement in Optional Discussion Forums: A Reflection on An Online Statistics Course

Tianyi Zhang Ulyshen, Grand Canyon University 


When teaching pre-loaded and ready-to-use online courses, online instructors can integrate some optional discussion forums to tailor their instructions and to redirect teaching to meet instructional objectives. My teaching experiences, however, have revealed a lack of learner engagement in such optional discussion forums. Keeping this problem in mind, I explored possible ways to design and incorporate optional discussion forums in a pre-loaded online statistics course. Learners in this course were non-traditional doctoral learners, and they demonstrated satisfying engagement in these optional discussion forums. Therefore, in this reflection paper, I describe the process to design these optional discussion topics, evaluate learner engagement in optional discussion forums through three dimensions, and share major instructional strategies I used during this course to cultivate student engagement to work on these optional discussion topics. 

Keywords: Cognitive engagement, behavioral engagement, emotional engagement, deep learning, expectancy-value motivation theory, classroom assessment techniques

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