Promoting High-Order Thinking in Online Discussions

Promoting High-Order Thinking in Online Discussions

Anne Scott (ACU National, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-985-9.ch016


Asynchronous online discussions potentially maximise the learning opportunities in tertiary education. In this chapter the design, implementation and evaluation of online discussions for developing high-order thinking skills with large groups enrolled in a preservice teacher education program are discussed. The development and evaluation of a tool indicates it is possible to examine the intellectual quality of online discussions and considering these written responses in terms of awareness, regulation and evaluation provides the facilitator with useful insights about students’ thinking. A framework for auditing the activities facilitating the online discussions for potential learning opportunities is also recommended. Findings indicate that preservice teachers do engage in productive professional discourse which transform their learning when appropriate activities are used.
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Review Of Studies Examining Online Discussions To Enhance Learning

In this section the learning process using online discussions is considered in three phases: design, implementation and evaluation to assist in the discussion of relevant studies and the presentation of the data that follows. In the design phase I consider the suitability and sequence of appropriate tasks and structures required for creating a virtual environment conducive to learning in which ideal learning outcomes may develop. In the implementation phase I consider the roles of the facilitator and learner and ways in which to promote productive collaborative learning exchanges among them. In the evaluation phase I consider the gains in student learning as a result of their contributions to the online discussions. Evidence of change in online discussions may be measured by increased levels of participation and/or by the quality of critical reflections on the connections between the theory and their applicability to real-life contexts. Of course, few studies fit neatly into one classification; therefore, aspects of studies are positioned according to best fit.

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