Feedback using Asynchronous Discussion Forums in an Online Introductory Thermodynamics Course

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S. Hall, C. Dancey, C.T. Amelink


The asynchronous (i.e., discussion forums) technology was employed for instruction and explication of formative feedback and self-explanation in the first online offering of our introductory thermodynamics course. The goal of the formative feedback was to promote problem solving skills. Exercises were designed to challenge students to search for multiple ways to demonstrate their conceptual understanding of very fundamental physical notions. In the case study presented in this paper, we provide observational data from students, instructors’ reflections, the types of questions used in the guided activities, and the role of formative feedback in problem-solving courses. The instructors’ reflections illuminated the importance of wellprepared forum questions and motivation for participation (reward) would result in more instances of interaction among students. The discussion focuses on ways to improve forum questions, instructor’ feedback, and the frequency of the feedback to improve students’ metacognitive strategies in learning and the application of the course material. The observational data are also examined to note if there were any differences in forum contributions online versus students' contributions in a face-to-face class. The study is significant and of interest to faculty and administrators who are considering approaches to increase conceptual understanding in abstract engineering courses as well as access to engineering education via online teaching.

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How to Cite
S. Hall, C. Dancey, C.T. Amelink. (2012). Feedback using Asynchronous Discussion Forums in an Online Introductory Thermodynamics Course. Journal of Online Engineering Education, 3(1). Retrieved from