|dc.description.abstract||With the development of online communication technologies, people’s life has been altered. The change took place not only on the way people communicate with others but also on the ways educators teach and students learn.
According to the previous studies, students used online discussion forums as alternative learning resources. It is believed that the qualities of learning resources will influence students’ learning, and the need of a set of indicators for evaluating online discussion forums was proposed. Hence, the primary aim of this study is to develop a set of evaluative criteria for online discussion forums, and then to investigate its implications and influences on students’ learning. The researcher proceeded with this study through three phases.
First phase: based on social cognitive theory, participatory design, and Delphi techniques, the researcher interviewed 41 students, asked the students to evaluate online discussion forum and three experts to classify the data came from students’ opinions, and finally developed a set of evaluative criteria for online discussion forums.
After the completion of development of the evaluative criteria, besides of being used for evaluating online discussion forums, the criteria should be a reference which could help teachers to develop effective instructional strategies. Therefore, in phase two and phase three, the researcher conducted two case studies to discuss how to apply the developed evaluative criteria in instruction.
Second phase: based on the developed evaluative criteria and the suggestions from literature review, the teacher applied instructional strategies to make the class-based online discussion forum meet the requirement of the criteria. Via using content analysis to investigate 105 students’ online discussion quality and behaviors, the results revealed that students had more higher-level questions and logged in online discussion forum more frequently to read others’ posting when teacher used instructional strategies to make the online discussion forum meet the requirement of the developed criteria.
Third phase: using the developed evaluative criteria to filter out one sophisticated and one less-sophisticated online discussion forum. Giving these two online discussion forums to the students as alternative learning resource, the researcher investigated the differences of students’ learning performance, discussion behaviors, and discussion quality between two groups in order to explore the influences of online discussion forums with different qualities. The results indicated that students with sophisticated learning resource had better learning performance, more discussion behaviors, and more high level questions.
This study, based on experts and participants’ opinions, developed a set of evaluative criteria comprising of personal, behavioral, and environmental influences. In order to know how the criteria could be used in education, two experiments were conducted. The results disclosed that the developed criteria could be used to filter out online discussion forums with different qualities and offer effective guidelines for the teachers who want to integrate online discussion forums into their instruction.