The Impact of Online Discussions on the Accuracy of the Written Output of Bahraini L2 University Students

  • Diana Al Jahrami


This study was conducted to investigate the effect of using online discussions facilitated on a university learning management system’s (LMS) discussion board on L2 students’ writing accuracy. In order to achieve this, a quasi-experimental design, in which a sample of undergraduate L2 students (n = 40) enrolled in an English writing course, was implemented during one academic semester at the University of Bahrain. The sample was divided into an experimental group which used the discussion board to engage in interactive discussions and a control group which did not. Two measures were used to assess the writing accuracy development of students: the ratio of error-free clauses to the total number of clauses (EFC/C) and the ratio of the number of errors divided by the number of words. Students’ perceived satisfaction and learning benefits were measured through using semi-structured interviews. Statistical findings reveal that facilitating online discussions can significantly enhance students’ writing accuracy. Students reported positively perceived outcomes and influence of online discussions on their writing accuracy attributed to a number of proposed factors. To obtain more satisfactory results, a number of implications and recommendations are suggested.


Online discussions Discussion boards L2 writing accuracy University of Bahrain Errors 


  1. Abrams, Z. I. (2003). The effect of synchronous and asynchronous CMC on oral performance in German. Modern Language Journal, 87(2), 157–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abrams, Z. I. (2006). From theory to practice: Intracultural CMC in the L2 classroom. In L. Ducate & N. Arnold (Eds.), Calling to CALL: From theory and research to new directions in foreign language teaching (pp. 181–209). San Marcos, TX: Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium.Google Scholar
  3. Al-Ani, M. F., Hameed, S. M., & Faisal, L. (2013). Students’ perspectives in adopting mobile learning at University of Bahrain. Fourth International Conference on e-Learning “Best Practices in Management, Design and Development of e-Courses: Standards of Excellence and Creativity”, Manama, 2013, pp. 86–89.Google Scholar
  4. Alghamdi, A. (2013). Pedagogical implications of using discussion boards to improve student learning in Higher Education. Higher Education Studies, 3(5), 68–80.Google Scholar
  5. Alharbi, M. (2015). Effects of Blackboard’s discussion boards, blogs and wikis on effective integration and development of literacy skills in EFL students. English Language Teaching, 8(6), 111–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Al Jahrami, D., Al-Wadi, H., & Al-Majdoob, S. (2003). A survey of students’ attitudes towards English language learning and curriculum. Paper presented at the English Language Curriculum Development Symposium: Towards a New Curriculum for the New Millennium, Bahrain, 18–20 January 2003.Google Scholar
  7. AlJeraisy, M. N., Mohammad, H., Fayyoumi, A., & Alrashideh, W. (2015). Web 2.0 in education: The impact of discussion board on student performance and satisfaction. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 14(2), 247–259.Google Scholar
  8. Almansour, N., & Alshorman, R. (2014). The effect of an extensive program on the writing performance of Saudi EFL university students. International Journal of Linguistics, 6, 247–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. AlOmrani, H. (2014). Integrating reading into writing instruction in the EFL programs at Saudi universities. Arab World English Journal, 5(3), 100–112.Google Scholar
  10. Álvarez, G. (2012). New technologies in the university context: The use of blogs for developing students’ reading and writing skills. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 9(2), 185–199.Google Scholar
  11. Alzahrani, M. G. (2017). The effect of using online discussion forums on students’ learning. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 16(1), 164–176.Google Scholar
  12. Anderson, T. (2008). Theory and practice of online learning. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5(2), 1–17.Google Scholar
  14. Applebee, A. N., Langer, J. A., Nystrand, M., & Gamoran, A. (2003). Discussion-based approaches to developing understanding: Classroom instruction and student performance in middle and high school English. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 685–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Arbaugh, J., & Hiltz, S. R. (2005). Improving quantitative research on ALN effectiveness. In S. R. Hiltz & R. Goldman (Eds.), Learning together online: Research on asynchronous learning networks (pp. 81–102). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Arnold, N. (2007). Reducing foreign language communication apprehension with a computer-mediated communication: A preliminary study. System, 35, 469–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  18. Bamanger, E. M., & Gashan, A. K. (2015). The effect of planning time on the fluency, accuracy, and complexity of EFL learners’ oral production. Journal of Educational Sciences, 27(1), 1–15.Google Scholar
  19. Beers, S. F., & Nagy, W. E. (2011). Writing development in four genres from grades three to seven: Syntactic complexity and genre differentiation. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 24, 183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Benbunan-Fich, R., Hiltz, S. R., & Turoff, M. (2002). A comparative content analysis of face-to-face vs. asynchronous group decision making. Decision Support System, 34, 457–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Binglan, Z., & Jia, C. (2010). The impact of teacher feedback on the long-term improvement in the accuracy of EFL student writing. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, 33(2), 18–34.Google Scholar
  22. Bitchener, J., & Knoch, U. (2009). The relative effectiveness of different types of direct written corrective feedback. System, 37, 322–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Black, A. (2005). The use of asynchronous discussion: Creating a text of talk. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 5(1), 5–24.Google Scholar
  24. Blackmon, S. J. (2012). Outcomes of chat and discussion board use in online learning: A research synthesis. Journal of Educators Online, 9(2), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Boyd, D. (2008). None of this is real. In J. Karaganis (Ed.), Structures of participation in digital culture (pp. 132–157). New York: Social Science Research Council.Google Scholar
  26. Bradley, T., & Lomicka, L. (2000). A case study of learner interaction in technology-enhanced language learning environment. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 22(3), 247–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Cabiness, C., Irvine, J., & Grove, G. (2013). Integrating wikis in the support and practice of historical analysis skills. TechTrends, 57(6), 38–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Carlisle, J. F. (1989). The use of the sentence verification technique in diagnostic assessment of listening and reading comprehension. Learning Disabilities Research, 5(1), 33–44.Google Scholar
  29. Castner, J. (2000). The asynchronous online writing session: A two-way stab in the dark? In J. A. Inman & D. N. Sewell (Eds.), Taking flight with OWLs: Examining electronic writing center work (pp. 119–128). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. Chandler, J. (2003). The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12, 267–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Chenoweth, N. A., & Hayes, J. R. (2001). Fluency in writing: Generating text in L1 and L2. Written Communication, 18, 80–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ciftci, H., & Kocoglu, Z. (2012). Effects of peer e-feedback on Turkish EFL students’ writing performance. Journal of Education Computing Research, 46(1), 61–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Clark, R. A., & Scott, L. W. (1995). Assessing the impact of course-related electronic communications on student performance in an introductory programming course. Journal of Information Systems Education, 7(1), 16–19.Google Scholar
  34. Collins, J. A. (2000). Intersections of writers’ intended readers with peer responders during asynchronous forms in first-year composition (Doctoral dissertation). Arizona State University, Arizona.Google Scholar
  35. Coyle, A. C. (2010). Collaborative and networked pedagogies: Using wikis in the composition classroom (Doctoral dissertation). University of Wyoming, Wyoming.Google Scholar
  36. Cozens, P., Al-Kaabi, H., & Al-Ali, K. (2005). Discussion boards: Tools for reflection and learning. In Proceeding of the 10th TESOL Arabia Conference: Standards in English language teaching and assessment (Vol. 9). Dubai: TESOL Arabia.Google Scholar
  37. Craig, A., Goold, A., Coldwell, J., & Mustard, J. (2008). Perceptions of roles and responsibilities in online learning: A case study. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects, 4, 205–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Davidson-Shivers, G., Ellis, H. H., & Amarasing, P. (2010). How do female students participate in online debates? International Journal on E-Learning, 9(2), 169–183.Google Scholar
  39. Davis, B., & Thiede, R. (2000). Writing into change: Style shifting in asynchronous electronic discourse. In M. Warschauer & R. Kern (Eds.), Network-based language teaching: Concepts and practices (pp. 87–120). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Deng, L., & Yuen, A. (2011). Towards a framework for educational affordances of blogs. Computers & Education, 56, 441–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Deng, X., Lee, K. C., Chitra, V., & Lim, M. L. (2010). Academic writing development of ESL/EFL graduate students in NUS. Reflections on English Language Teaching, 9(2), 119–138.Google Scholar
  42. Dornyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Ellis, R., & Barkhuizen, G. (2005). Analysing learner language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Ellis, R., Sheen, Y., Morakami, M., & Takashima, H. (2008). The effect of focused and unfocused corrective feedback in an English as a foreign language context. System, 36, 353–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Elola, I., & Oskoz, A. (2010). Collaborative writing: Fostering foreign language and writing conventions development. Language Learning & Technology, 14(3), 51–71.Google Scholar
  46. Fageeh, A., & Mekheimer, M. (2013). Effects of Blackboard on EFL academic writing and attitudes. JALTCALL Journal, 9(2), 169–196.Google Scholar
  47. Fjermestad, J., Hiltz, S. R., & Zhang, Y. (2005). Effectiveness for students: Comparisons of “in-seat” and ALN courses. In S. R. Hiltz & R. Goldman (Eds.), Learning together online: Research on asynchronous learning networks (pp. 39–80). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  48. Flanagan, B., Yin, C., Suzuki, T., & Hirokawa, S. (2014). Classification of English language learner writing errors using a parallel corpus with SVM. International Journal of Knowledge and Web Intelligence, 5(1), 21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Foster, P., & Skehan, P. (1996). The influence of planning and task type on second language performance. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18, 299–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Halic, O., Lee, D., Paulus, T., & Spence, M. (2010). To blog or not to blog: Student perceptions of blog effectiveness for learning in a college-level course. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 206–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Herring, S. C. (2001). Computer-mediated discourse. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, & H. Hamilton (Eds.), The handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 612–634). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  52. Hewitt, J. (2000). Sustaining online interactions in a knowledge forum classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans.Google Scholar
  53. Hiltz, S. R., & Goldman, R. (Eds.). (2005). Learning together online: Research on asynchronous learning networks. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  54. Hirata Y., & Hirata Y. (2008). Japanese students’ attitudes towards hybrid learning. In J. Fong, R. Kwan, & F. L. Wang (Eds.), Hybrid learning and education. ICHL 2008. Lecture notes in computer sciences, LNCS 5169 (pp. 439–449). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  55. Hoadley, C. M., & Linn, M. C. (2000). Teaching science through online, peer discussions: Speak easy in the knowledge integration environment. International Journal of Science Education, 22(8), 839–857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Hunter, J. (2011). ‘Small talk’: Developing fluency, accuracy, and complexity in speaking. ELT Journal, 66(1), 30–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Im, Y., & Lee, O. (2003). Pedagogical implications of online discussion for preservice teacher training. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36(2), 155–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ishikawa, S. (1995). Objective measurement of low-proficiency EFL narrative writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 4, 51–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Johnson, G. (2008). The relative learning benefits of synchronous and asynchronous text-based discussion. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(1), 166–169.Google Scholar
  60. Kol, S., & Schcolnik, M. (2008). Asynchronous forums in EAP: Assessment issues. Language Learning & Technology, 12(2), 49–70.Google Scholar
  61. Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I. (2007). Task complexity and measures of linguistic performance in L2 writing. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 45(3), 261–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Lapadat, J. C. (2000). Teaching online: Breaking new ground in collaborative thinking. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 443 420).Google Scholar
  63. Lapadat, J. C. (2002). Written interaction: A key component in online learning. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 7(4). Retrieved on December 7, 2017 from Scholar
  64. Laurillard, D. (2010). Effective use of technology in teaching and learning in HE. International Encyclopedia of Education, 4, 419–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Lee, L. (2009). Exploring native and nonnative interactive discourse in text-based chat beyond classroom settings. In L. B. Abraham & L. F. Williams (Eds.), Electronic discourse in language learning and language teaching (pp. 127–150). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Lennon, P. (1991). Errors: Some problems of definition, identification, and distinction. Applied Linguistics, 12, 180–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Li, Y., & Huang, R. (2008). Analyzing peer interactions in computer-supported collaborative learning: Model, method and tool. In J. Fong, R. Kwan, & F. L. Wong (Eds.), ICHL 2008: Hybrid learning and education, LNCS 5169 (pp. 125–136). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  68. Liao, J. (2016). The impact of interactive discussions on L2 Chinese composition writing (Doctoral dissertation). University of Iowa, Iowa. Retrieved from Iowa Research Online
  69. Liaw, S. (2008). Investigating students’ perceived satisfaction, behavioral intention, and effectiveness of e-learning: A case study of the blackboard system. Computers & Education, 51, 864–873.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Lowes, S., Lin, P., & Wang, Y. (2007). Studying the effectiveness of the discussion forum in online professional development courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(3), 181–210.Google Scholar
  71. Lundin, R. (2008). Teaching with wikis: Toward a networked pedagogy. Computers and Composition, 25(1), 432–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Lundstrom, K., & Baker, W. (2009). To give is better than to receive: The benefits of peer review to the reviewer’s own writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18(1), 30–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Mabrito, M. (2000). Facilitating and evaluating student interaction in an online business writing course. American Journal of Distance Education, 20(2), 93–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Mak, B., & Coniam, D. (2008). Using wikis to enhance and develop writing skills among secondary school students in Hong Kong. System, 36(2), 437–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ministry of Labour and Social Development. (2017, April 5). Program in mass communication and public relations: Challenges and ambitions. Presentation by Ministry officials at the Media Stakeholders Seminar, University of Bahrain, Bahrain.Google Scholar
  76. Montero, B., Watts, F., & García-Carbonell, A. (2007). Discussion forum interactions: Text and context. System, 35(4), 566–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Mora, J. C., & Valls-Ferrer, M. (2012). Oral fluency, accuracy, and complexity in formal instruction and study abroad learning contexts. TESOL Quarterly, 46, 610–641.Google Scholar
  78. Mubarak, M. (2013). Corrective feedback in L2 writing: A study of practices and effectiveness in the Bahrain context (Doctoral dissertation). University of Sheffield, Sheffield. Retrieved from White Rose eTheses (EthosID: Scholar
  79. Ortega, L. (1997). Processes and outcomes in networked classroom interaction: Defining the research agenda for L2 computer-assisted classroom discussion. Language Learning and Technology, 1(1), 82–93.Google Scholar
  80. Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding second language acquisition. New York: Hodder Education.Google Scholar
  81. Pena-Shaff, J., Altman, W., & Stephenson, H. (2005). Asynchronous online discussions as a tool for learning: Students’ attitudes, expectations, and perceptions. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 16, 409–430.Google Scholar
  82. Polio, C. G. (1997). Measures of linguistic accuracy in second language writing research. Language Learning, 47(1), 101–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Roca de Larios, J., Murphy, L., & Marín, J. (2002). A critical examination of L2 writing process research. In S. Ransdell & M.-L. Barbier (Eds.), New directions for research in L2 writing (pp. 11–47). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Sabooni, S. (1994). The teaching of writing within the integrated skills approach in Bahrain (M.Ed., dissertation). University of Manchester, Manchester.Google Scholar
  85. Schmidt, R. (1992). Psychological mechanisms underlying second language fluency. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 14(4), 357–385. Retrieved from Scholar
  86. Sherry, L., Tavalin, F., & Billig, S. H. (2000). Good online conversation: Building on research to inform practice. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 11(1), 85–127.Google Scholar
  87. Shih, R. (2011). Can Web 2.0 technology assist college students in learning English writing? Integrating Facebook and peer assessment with blended learning. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(5), 829–845.Google Scholar
  88. Shintani, N., & Aubrey, S. (2016). The effectiveness of synchronous and asynchronous written corrective feedback on grammatical accuracy in a computer-mediated environment. Modern Language Journal, 100(1), 296–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Simpson, J. (2003). The discourse of computer-mediated communication: A study of an online community (Doctoral dissertation). University of Reading, Reading. Retrieved from
  90. Skehan, P. (1996). A framework for the implementation of task-based instruction. Applied Linguistics, 71, 38–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Soter, A., Wilkinson, I., Murphy, K., Rudge, L., Reninger, K., & Edwards, M. (2008). What the discourse tells us: Talk and indicators of high-level comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 48(1), 372–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Sotillo, S. (2000). Discourse functions and syntactic complexity in synchronous and asynchronous communication. Language Learning and Technology Journal, 4(1), 82–119.Google Scholar
  93. Storch, N. (2009). The impact of studying in a second language (L2) medium university on the development of L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18, 103–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Swan, K. (2003). Learning effectiveness: What the research tells us. In J. Bourne & J. C. Moore (Eds.), Elements of quality online education, practice and direction (pp. 13–45). Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education.Google Scholar
  95. Tai, H.-Y. (2015). Writing development in syntactic complexity, accuracy and fluency in a content and language integrated learning class. International Journal of Language and Linguistics, 2(3), 149–156.Google Scholar
  96. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  97. Wang, Q., & Woo, H. L. (2007). Systematic planning for ICT integration in topic learning. Educational Technology & Society, 10(1), 148–156.Google Scholar
  98. Ware, P. G., & Kramsch, C. (2005). Toward an intercultural stance: Teaching German and English through telecollaboration. The Modern Language Journal, 89(2), 190–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Wei, H. C., Peng, H., & Chou, C. (2015). Can more interactivity improve learning achievement in an online course? Effects of college students’ perception and actual use of a course-management system on their learning achievement. Computers & Education, 83, 10–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Wertch, J. (1991). Voices of the mind: A sociohistorical approach to mediated action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  101. Wichadee, S. (2010). Using wikis to develop summary writing abilities of students in an EFL class. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 7(12), 5–10.Google Scholar
  102. Wolfe-Quintero, K., Inagaki, S., & Kim, H. (1998). Second language development in writing: Measures of fluency, accuracy and complexity. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  103. Xia, J., Fielder, J., & Siragusa, L. (2013). Achieving better peer interaction in online discussion forums: A reflective practitioner case study. Issues in Educational Research, 23(1), 97–113.Google Scholar
  104. Yousif, L. S. (2006). Grice’s maxims as a tool of assessing the efficiency of ESP writing (Master’s thesis). University of Bahrain, Bahrain.Google Scholar
  105. Zhu, C. (2012). Student satisfaction, performance, and knowledge construction in online collaborative learning. Educational Technology & Society, 15(1), 127–136.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Al Jahrami
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Arts, University of BahrainZallaqBahrain

Personalised recommendations