Authors: Nasreena Waheed
This paper reports on an action research study that aimed to investigate whether an online discussion board could provide feedback to a lecturer to cater for specific learning needs and improve student engagement and outcome in a first year undergraduate nursing unit delivered externally. And whether a reflective practice approach to content delivery based on student feedback could improve learning outcomes and student satisfaction. An online forum was used to identify students’ learning needs, encourage collaboration, discussion of learning materials and create a learning community that is supportive of each other to enhance learning. A reflective practice approach was used to reflect upon student feedback and teaching practice that allowed modifying teaching materials and practice throughout the semester. At the end of week 10, students provided feedback on their learning experience that formed part of the qualitative data along with the researcher’s reflective journal which were analyzed using thematic analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to compare student engagement with the School of Health average for the semester and grades between two semesters of the same unit. It was found that on average the student engagement with the unit was more than the average for the school of health and there was a marked improvement on student grade. Three themes emerge from the student feedback (sense of belonging, sense of satisfaction and sense of ownership). The themes that emerge from the researcher reflections were: lack of engagement/anxiety, developing trust and enjoyment with engagement. It was concluded that an online discussion forum could provide an educator the opportunity to identify students’ learning needs and modify the educational materials and delivery according to the expressed needs. This has the potential to improve the time students spend on Learnline by enhancing their engagement with the learning materials and improving their academic performance.
Keywords: reflective practice, student engagement, discussion forum, student learning, online