Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 31340
Students’ Level of Participation, Critical Thinking, Types of Action and Influencing Factors in Online Forum Environment

Authors: N. I. Bazid, I. N. Umar


Due to the advancement of Internet technology, online learning is widely used in higher education institutions. Online learning offers several means of communication, including online forum. Through online forum, students and instructors are able to discuss and share their knowledge and expertise without having a need to attend the face-to-face, ordinary classroom session. The purposes of this study are to analyze the students’ levels of participation and critical thinking, types of action and factors influencing their participation in online forum. A total of 41 postgraduate students undertaking a course in educational technology from a public university in Malaysia were involved in this study. In this course, the students participated in a weekly online forum as part of the course requirement. Based on the log data file extracted from the online forum, the students’ type of actions (view, add, update, delete posts) and their levels of participation (passive, moderate or active) were identified. In addition, the messages posted in the forum were analyzed to gauge their level of critical thinking. Meanwhile, the factors that might influence their online forum participation were measured using a 24-items questionnaire. Based on the log data, a total of 105 posts were sent by the participants. In addition, the findings show that (i) majority of the students are moderate participants, with an average of two to three posts per person, (ii) viewing posts are the most frequent type of action (85.1%), and followed by adding post (9.7%). Furthermore, based on the posts they made, the most frequent type of critical thinking observed was justification (50 input or 19.0%), followed by linking ideas and interpretation (47 input or 18%), and novelty (38 input or 14.4%). The findings indicate that online forum allows for social interaction and can be used to measure the students’ critical thinking skills. In order to achieve this, monitoring students’ activities in the online forum is recommended.

Keywords: Critical thinking, learning management system, level of online participation, online forum.

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