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Asynchronous discussion forum design to support cognition: effects of rubrics and instructor prompts on learner’s critical thinking, achievement, and satisfaction

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test the effects of two metacognitive scaffolds on learners’ cognition by evaluating student critical thinking skills performance in an asynchronous discussion board and achievement in a blended learning module. The two scaffolds included a systematic protocol for individualized facilitation prompts and an analytic rubric with three criteria (critical thinking, participation frequency, and writing quality) along with four levels of achievement for each criterion. This research study employed a quasi-experimental, two-by-two factorial design. The study participants (N = 257) were assigned to one of four different conditions. Those provided with the rubric scaffold demonstrated significant differences with respect to their performances. However, the combination of both metacognitive scaffolds had a detrimental effect on learner performance. Additionally, learners reported higher satisfaction levels with the module when presented only with the rubric scaffold. Based on these results, the implications are discussed for those who design, facilitate, and manage asynchronous discussions and blended learning environments.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Tara Bunag, Heidi Blair, Courtney Hart, Jane Legacy, Todd Kisicki, and William Vann, for their assistance with the study implementation and data collection as well as Caroline Savio-Ramos for her assistance with coding. Also, the first author would like to thank Robert L. Giacumo (recently deceased) and Diane K. Giacumo for their support during the research project and her doctoral studies.

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Correspondence to Lisa A. Giacumo.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Example quiz questions

Instructions Choose the best answer for each of the next twelve items. Please submit your answers in full, when you are done.

Correct Answers: Are noted in bold.

OBJECTIVE 1a (Identify general legal or public domain use of intellectual property of copyright protected materials)

  1. 1.

    Mrs. Jerome, who teaches government always goes to bed early. She normally videotapes “The Colbert Report” show and watches it the following day before school. This is probably:

Answer

  • Definitely copyright violation

  • Definitely fair-use of copyrighted material

  • Likely general legal use

  • Likely copyright materials violation

  1. 2.

    A high school biology student is assigned to watch an evening episode airing on the National Geographic Channel as homework. The student, who participates in evening competitive swim team practice videotapes the show and watches it the following day before school. This is probably:

Answer

  • Definitely copyright violation

  • Definitely fair-use of copyrighted material

  • Likely copyright materials violation

  • Likely general legal use

  1. 3.

    Once a work is put on the Internet it means that it’s in the Public Domain and free for anyone to use.

Answer

  • False, unless indicated as a government funded project or public domain

  • False, unless the website is password protected

  • True, as long as you don’t claim it as your own work

  • True, as long as you don’t try to sell it

OBJECTIVE 1b (Identify permissible fair-use of intellectual property in the classroom)

  1. 4.

    A high school Drama teacher creates a PowerPoint presentation for her class. She incorporates a short clip of the movie “Shakespeare in Love” to show an example related to a specific instructional objective. This is probably:

Answer

  • Definitely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Definitely fair-use of copyright protected material

  • Likely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Likely general legal use of copyright protected materials

  1. 5.

    A student creates a PowerPoint presentation as an assignment for class and uses the first 30 s of the theme of “Star Wars” as an introduction.

Answer

  • Definitely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Likely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Likely general legal use of copyright protected materials

  • Definitely fair-use of copyright protected material

  1. 6.

    A 5th grade teacher has a family emergency that causes her to be gone for a week from school. She promises a reward party for her students if they behave for the substitute teacher. While the teacher is out, the students cooperate with the substitute very well. Upon the teacher’s return, she rents “Anne Frank” from Blockbuster, which illustrates the current social studies topics discussed in class. This is a valid example of:

Answer

  • Definitely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Definitely fair-use of copyright protected material

  • Likely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Likely general legal use of copyright protected materials

OBJECTIVE 1c (Identify copyright violation of intellectual property in the classroom)

  1. 7.

    A music teacher finds a web site with the latest top-40 music available for free. He downloads the music, puts it on CDs and distributes them to his students. This is probably:

Answer

  • Definitely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Definitely fair-use of copyright protected material

  • Likely fair-use of copyright protected materials

  • Likely general legal use of copyright protected materials

  1. 8.

    Using her home VCR, a sociology teacher records a particular episode of the “Andy Griffith Show” from the TVLand channel on cable TV. She uses the tape in her classes so students can watch it to critique the media portrayal of small town life in the 1960s. She has found no better examples so now, five years later, she continues to use the tape.

Answer

  • Likely fair-use of copyright protected materials

  • Definitely fair-use of copyright protected material

  • Definitely violation of copyright protected materials

  • Likely general legal use of copyright protected materials

  1. 9.

    A student uses a peer-to-peer file-sharing program like Kazaa to find and download the latest complete top-40 MP3 music files for free. She then incorporates all of the music files into her electronic portfolio and cites the sources. This is probably:

Answer

  • Likely fair-use of copyright protected materials

  • Likely general legal use of copyright protected materials

  • Definitely fair-use of copyright protected material

  • Definitely violation of copyright protected materials

OBJECTIVE II (Identify appropriate ethical integration of a copyright protected work in classroom instructional materials.)

  1. 10.

    Which of the following demonstrates appropriate ethical integration of copyright protected materials into the classroom?

Answer

  • A music teacher posts a song she/he bought on her/his password protected classroom website for academic critique.

  • A music teacher posts a song she/he bought on her/his open classroom blog for academic critique.

  • A math teacher posts a song she/he bought on her/his password protected classroom website for students to enjoy.

  • A math teacher posts a song she/he bought on her/his open classroom blog for students to enjoy.

  1. 11.

    Which of the following demonstrates appropriate ethical integration of copyright protected materials into the classroom?

Answer

  • A teacher rents a movie to show to her class that is intended to entertain students while a substitute is teaching her/his students.

  • A teacher borrows a movie from the school library to show to her class that is intended to entertain students while a substitute is teaching her/his students.

  • A teacher borrows a movie from the school library to show at a fundraising family movie-night.

  • A teacher rents a movie to show to her class that is intended to review recent classroom learning topics while a substitute is teaching her/his students.

  1. 12.

    Once a multimedia work is put on the Internet it means that it is in the public domain and freely available for any teacher to use as he/she sees fit.

Answer

  • True, if the teacher plans to use it without modification

  • True, if the teacher is using the material for educational purposes

  • False, unless the author clearly gives permission for educational use

  • False, even if the teacher has permission from the copyright holder

Adapted from Lewallen (2006) Fair Use Scenarios presentation document.

Appendix 2

Discussion-board directions and question prompts

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Giacumo, L.A., Savenye, W. Asynchronous discussion forum design to support cognition: effects of rubrics and instructor prompts on learner’s critical thinking, achievement, and satisfaction. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 37–66 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-019-09664-5

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Keywords

  • Blended learning
  • Metacognitive scaffolds
  • Critical thinking
  • Discussion board
  • Assessment
  • Grading rubrics