You are here:

Student Contribution in Asynchronous Online Discussion: A Review of the Research and Empirical Exploration

, ,

ISAIJLS Volume 38, Number 6, ISSN 0020-4277


The increasingly prevalent use of Internet in schools and homes has resulted in asynchronous online discussion becoming an increasingly common means to facilitate dialogue between instructors and students, as well as students and students beyond the boundaries of their physical classrooms. This article is organized into two main sections. In the first section, we review 50 empirical studies in order to identify the factors leading to limited student contribution. Limited student contribution is defined as students making few or no postings, or students exhibiting surface-level thinking or low-level knowledge construction in online discussions. We then identify the various empirically based guidelines to address the factors. In the second section, we discuss three potential guideline dilemmas that educators may encounter: (a) use of grades, (b) use of number of posting guideline, and (c) instructor-facilitation. These are guidelines where previous empirical research shows mixed results when they are implemented. Acknowledging the dilemmas is essential for educators and researchers to make informed decisions about the discussion guidelines they are considering implementing. Finally, we report two exploratory case studies on student-facilitation that we conducted. Using students as facilitators may be an alternative solution to educators who wish to avoid the instructor-facilitation guideline dilemma.


Hew, K.F., Cheung, W.S. & Ng, C.S.L. (2010). Student Contribution in Asynchronous Online Discussion: A Review of the Research and Empirical Exploration. Instructional Science: An International Journal of the Learning Sciences, 38(6), 571-606. Retrieved March 26, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on April 19, 2013. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.


View References & Citations Map

Cited By

  1. Learning Together: Strategies for Supporting Collaborative Learning in Online Courses from a Universal Design for Learning Perspective

    Susie Gronseth, University of Houston, United States; Debra K Bauder, University of Louisville, United States

    EdMedia + Innovate Learning 2018 (Jun 25, 2018) pp. 1068–1081

  2. Online Instructors’ Use of Scaffolding Strategies to Promote Interactions: A Scale Development Study

    Moon-Heum Cho, Sungkyunkwan University; YoonJung Cho, Sungshin Women's University

    The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning Vol. 17, No. 6 (Dec 06, 2016)

  3. Designing Effective Online Communication Environments

    Domenic Dini, University of Nevada, Reno, United States

    Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2015 (Mar 02, 2015) pp. 283–290

  4. Enhancing Learners’ Cognitive Engagement in Online Discussions: Implementation of Audio- and Video-Based Argumentation Activity

    Eunjung Oh, Georgia College and State University, United States; Hyun Song Kim, The University of Georgia, United States

    E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2013 (Oct 21, 2013) pp. 2031–2036

  5. How Do Students View Asynchronous Online Discussions As A Learning Experience?

    Penny Bassett, Victoria University, Australia

    Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects Vol. 7, No. 1 (Jan 01, 2011) pp. 69–79

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact