Using asynchronous online discussion to learn introductory programming: An exploratory analysis


  • Robin Kay



Previous research on online discussions has focused on university students learning higher level subjects. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether online discussions could be used effectively by secondary school students attempting to learn introductory level topics. Forty-five male students, ranging in age from 13 to 15 years old, participated in two consecutive online discussions used to supplement the learning of HTML (24 days) and beginning programming (36 days) respectively. Students were able to actively understand and apply new concepts and procedures using an online discussion format. The majority of students posted clear, good quality messages that covered material which went beyond the course curriculum. Although attitudes toward using online discussions and participation rates were uneven, most students reported gaining useful information from the discussion board. More than three quarters of all discussion threads were resolved. Finally, and perhaps most important, participation in the discussion board was significantly and positively correlated with learning performance.