Sigrun Biesenbach-Lucas


This paper discusses students’ perceptions of an asynchronous electronic discussion assignment implemented shortly after the technology had been introduced to the university. In addition to the weekly face-to-face class meetings, students in two graduate level teacher training courses were assigned to small groups for an entire semester and made weekly contributions to their group’s course web discussion forum in which they discussed course content. Students were to make explicit references to course readings and postings by their group members. The instructor evaluated students' postings on a weekly basis. At the end of the course, students completed a survey assessing their satisfaction and asking for their suggestions for modification of the particular assignment type and format. For all students, the extension of course-related discussions outside the regular face-to-face class meetings offered benefits in the form of greater social interaction with other class members; for the non-native speakers among the students, the asynchronous discussions facilitated assimilation of course content, but it was not perceived as providing additional language practice. For all students, the two main issues perceived as negative related to their perceptions of forced, unnatural interaction promoted by the asynchronous discussions and lack of topic prompts, the requirement to make connections to prior postings, and the frequency of required contributions to discussions. Possible reasons for students’ perceptions are explored and suggestions for further research are provided.


Technology,Learning Effectiveness,Access,Discussion Boards,Asynchronous Discussion Groups,Computer-Mediated Communication,Student Perceptions,Non-Native Speakers

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