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Increasing Graduate Student Discussion Board Interaction in an Online Class



Improved Interaction, Online Learning, Graduate Students

Presented by:

Heather Chappell, Grand Valley University

Key Statement:

Students complain of a lack of interaction in online classes. Learn how discussion boards can be used in combination with Zoom to improve online learning.


Research has shown that students miss social interaction in online classes which can decrease student success and satisfaction of the course. When utilized alone, discussion boards provide limited engagement. In a graduate online class, students were paired in groups of 3-4 based on schedule availability. The discussion board assignment was provided the week before enabling students time to prepare. The professor was in attendance and lead the discussion, insuring all participated. Students were able to ask the professor questions to gain clarification on course material. Using Zoom increased student interaction and satisfaction compared to utilizing discussion boards alone.

Learning Outcomes:

Construct discussion board assignments to challenge students 

Learn how Zoom used in small groups increases student interaction and knowledge 

Summarize how using discussion board assignments with Zoom increases student satisfaction and success in online instruction

Hear it from the author:

Increasing Graduate Student Discussion Board Interaction in an Online ClassHeather Chappell, Grand Valley University
00:00 / 01:00


A challenge with teaching an asynchronous online class is the dissatisfaction of students with the lack of
peer and instructor interaction. I changed the online discussion board assignment to a Zoom meeting. The students completed an assignment then we met via Zoom to review the assignment. Each student presented and asked questions of each other. Faculty attended the meeting and answered questions and
responded to each student presenting. The students completed an anonymous survey at the end of the
semester. The majority felt the Zoom meetings increased learning and they enjoyed the interaction of
other students. All students responded that they felt it improved interaction with faculty. In addition the
Zoom meetings decreased grading time, decreased emails asking questions, and gave the ability to recognize learning deficits.


Cornell, H. R., Sayman, D., & Herron, J. (2019). Sense of community in an online graduate program. Journal of Effective Teaching in Higher Education, 2(2), 117–132.

Holzweiss, P. C., Joyner, S.A., Fuller, M.B., Henderson, S., & Young, R. (2014). Online graduate students’ perceptions of best learning experiences. Distance Education, 35 (3), 311–323.

Injeong, J., Huh, S., Bannert, A., & Grubb, K. (2020). Beginning the journey to creating an active online learning environment: Recommendations from graduate students. Journal of Geography, 119(6), 197–205.

Page, L., Hullett, E. M., & Boysen, S. (2020). Are you a robot? Revitalizing online learning and discussion board for today’s modern learner. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 68(2), 128–136. 

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