With online education becoming more widely accepted and available around the world, many people wonder about the differences between traditional classrooms and virtual classrooms. One difference is student participation and communication. In a traditional classroom setting, some students are able to earn credit by just attending class, not necessarily participating in class discussions. What do those types of students look like in an online environment? Does their lack of participation affect the learning process for others? How does class participation equate to student success?
With this case study, the authors sought to answer those questions exactly. More particularly, the study examined online students who fail to fully engage but are still able to show educational progress, referred to as read-only participants or ROPs (Nagel, Blignaut, & ...view middle of the document...
After the course, the facilitators requested feedback from the students regarding the course. Data was collected through WebCT. The LMS tracked the number of times each student logged into the course, the number of original posts made, the number of posts made in response to other students, and the collaboration score gained from the rubric (Nagel et al., 2009). WebCT’s technology proved very reliable in tracking the data needed to complete this study.
Through the study, the authors found students who participated—meaning they regularly used the online classroom, read, and responded to the discussion—received higher marks. A student’s online visibility absolutely correlates to their success in an online course. As in most studies, there were students who were the exceptions. Some students, the ROPs, were able to achieve success without frequently participating. The peer feedback rubric illustrated a relation between student course grades and their marks from their peers (Nagel et al., 2009).
This study can be applied in many different ways. Students should recognize the link between maintaining visibility in an online course and high performance. This will help them realize what is needed to achieve success in their classes and persuade them to work diligently on participating in discussions and group assignments. Facilitators can also use the information presented to set their expectations for student involvement. They should recognize how encouragement can help those students who are merely hanging out in the forums reading but not posting (Nagel et al., 2009). Further research can be conducted to thoroughly understand the poorly performing students, as this study primarily focuses on the high performers and how they were able to achieve success. The poor performers could be examined to find what other factors contributed to their poor performance.
Nagel, L., Blignaut, A. S., & Cronje, J. C. (2009). Read-only participants: a case for student communication in online classes. Interactive Learning Environments, 17(1), 37-51.