Taking the Bored Out of Discussion Boards

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Learn how to infuse creativity and relevancy in discussion board questions that drive higher engagement and result in greater student satisfaction.


Dr. Nichole Karpel is a professor and higher education consultant who has over 10 years' experience in academic administration, program management and online learning in multi-campus systems. In this role, she consults with colleges and universities on innovations in teaching and learning. Dr. Karpel earned a Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from George Washington University, a M.Ed. from The Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. in Sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University.

Extended Abstract

Discussion boards are an essential part of today's online courses and a key component of student engagement. Yet the questions posed to students are often predictable, formulaic and lacking originality. Additionally, questions rarely reflect what students are challenged with or doing in their careers. Learn how to infuse creativity and relevancy in discussion board questions that drive higher engagement and result in greater student satisfaction.
ï Relationship between discussion boards and student engagement
o What the research indicates about the early days
o Early performance indicator of student engagement
o Beyond end of chapter assignments/questions
o First impressions can go a long way
o It's a two way street; discussion boards are not only a place where schools look at student commitment but where students look a school's commitment

ï Methods and examples
o Introductions - use of media (pictures/videos, etc.) to create connection with and between students
o Respect them as adults. Emphasize what they bring to the table by way of professional and life experiences.
? Sample - discussion board question contest; practical use of theoretical/knowledge to real world situations;
o Make it relevant. Current events; your work environment today; personal/cultural circumstances, make it relatable. What to do with the concepts today.
o Be creative - know your audience (ages, socioeconomics, and first generation) and don't be afraid to use multiple approaches to convey messages/information.
o Connection - be real beyond the classroom and relate to students on their level; include personal antidotes and experiences; show empathy.

ï Results
o Quantity - sooner and more frequent responses; more peer to peer interaction
? Student - social media phenomena
? Institutional - quantity deduces engagement
o Quality - more substantial and unique responses; increased awareness of current day challenges within the field of study
? Student - more diverse perspectives; challenging discussion; expansion of thoughts and ideas
? Institutional - diversity of thoughts and demonstration of critical thinking
o Expansion of theory to application - broader awareness of differences across geographical/socioeconomic strata
? Student - moving from the ivory tower to the streets; application of theory in practical situations.
? Institutional - learning happens beyond the book

1. Explore the relationship between discussion board content and student engagement.
2. Provide practical methods and examples for adding creativity and relevancy to discussion board content.
3. Examine the results from the institutional and student perspectives.