Purpose: Online discussion within blended learning environments is essential to student success in a well-designed course. Our research briefly describes ways in which online discussion can be evaluated to predict student learning. The paper will present some online data regarding active and passive use of Web-CT-based course content as it relates to student performance. Methods: Thirty-seven RN (Registered Nurse) to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) students in a blended online and face-to-face biostatistics course participated in this research for 15 weeks. Results: Students who were engaged in active, original postings to discussion threads in response to relevant, course-based reading were most likely to do well, regardless of the total frequency of their visits to the discussion site. Students who engaged in frequent, but passive, less relevant postings did not do as well in terms of midterm quizzes or final grades. Discussion:Qualitative discussion rubrics can be labor-intensive; in large classes, it may be possible to supplement them with quantitative, Web-CT records of overall postings, original postings, follow-up postings, and total visits in order to determine which students are using discussion as a useful tool.




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