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Abstract

Students’ non-posting behaviour in online discussions is often neglected in educational research. However, it can be a potential indicator of student learning. This study examined the relationships between motivation, peer feedback and students’ posting and non-posting behaviours in online discussions in a distance learning class. Fifty-seven college students participated in collaborative learning activities through online discussions. Their posting and non-posting behavioural data were tracked automatically in the discussion system. Results show that students spent a significant amount of time participating in non-posting activities. Motivation and peer feedback predicted both posting and non-posting behaviours in online discussions.

Practitioner Notes

What is already known about this topic

  • • 
    Content analysis has been widely accepted as a common approach for analysing student interaction in online discussions, but this analytical method has limitations.
  • • 
    Students’ behaviour in online discussions including both posting and non-posting behaviour. However, non-posting behaviour is often neglected in investigating student online learning.
  • • 
    Students’ motivation and peer feedback have been proven as critical factors that influence students’ behaviour in online discussions. However, most empirical studies documented the significant effects of motivation and peer feedback only on posting behaviour.

What this paper adds

  • • 
    This study provides empirical evidence that the numeric data collected from an online system can be used as an important data source for analysing students’ posting and non-posting behaviour in online discussions.
  • • 
    This study provides empirical evidence that demonstrates the significance of non-posting behaviour in online discussions.
  • • 
    This study provides empirical evidence that demonstrates the significant effects of motivation on both posting and non-posting behaviour in online discussions.

Implications for practice and/or policy

  • • 
    System designers should consider adding system features to capture both posting and non-posting behaviour and mirror them back to teachers and students.
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    Teachers should design interventions to promote students’ feeling of self-competence and autonomy in online discussions.
  • • 
    Teachers should encourage peer feedback and peer evaluation in online learning activities.
  • • 
    System designers may incorporate peer evaluation mechanism (eg., peer rating) in online learning systems to enable an additional channel for peer feedback.