This study investigated the online practices of students enrolled in graduate-level distance education courses. Using interviews and a questionnaire as data sources, the study sought to: (a) identify common practices that students adopt in asynchronous discussions, and (b) gain an understanding of why students adopt them. An analysis of the data suggests that many of the practices are coping mechanisms developed to help students more easily meet course participation requirements. Some of these are time saving strategies designed to reduce information overload (e.g., skimming messages rather than reading them carefully). Other strategies are designed to help students project an image of themselves as knowledgeable and collaborative course participants. It is argued that although these practices provide students with a level of efficiency in terms of meeting course requirements, they may inadvertently undermine learning. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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