Ask and you will receive: how question type influences quantity and quality of online discussions


Dr Megan E. Bradley, 101 Braddock Road, Psychology Department, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD. 21532, USA. Email:


This study examined how question types influenced the quantity and quality of undergraduate students' online submissions. Discussion questions were structured based on one of six question types: direct link, course link, brainstorm, limited focal, open focal and application. Transcripts of eight online discussions involving 114 participants were analysed on these dependent variables: word count, degree of answer completion, and level of higher-order thinking. Results indicated the question types differentially influenced students' submissions on all dependent variables. Limited focal question type, followed by brainstorm, open focal and direct link types, was most influential for word count and degree of answer completion. Course link, brainstorm and direct link types were most influential in generating higher-order thinking, although students mainly engaged in lower-order thinking across all question types.