Mauritius, a small island of two thousand square kilometers in the South West of the Indian Ocean, uses English as the official medium of instruction in all state-funded educational institutions, although English is not the mother tongue of the vast majority of Mauritians. With wider access to computers and Internet across the island, there has been a call for teacher educators at the local teacher training institution to use asynchronous online discussion as part of teacher education programs to enhance learning. While the promises of asynchronous online discussion to extend classroom discussions have been widely researched, few studies have been conducted among non-native English speakers. A study was thus conducted to analyse the postings to issue-based asynchronous online discussions that were designed to supplement in-class discussions within an undergraduate level course. The study participants (n = 6), all of whom were non-native English speakers, were required to participate (in English) in two issue-based asynchronous online discussion forums. Quantitative measures were used to determine instructor and student participation rates in the online forums. In addition, content analysis, based on Henri’s model, was used to qualitatively analyse all students’ online postings for depth of information processing (surface or deep). Findings revealed that students made significant contributions to the online discussions, both quantitatively and qualitatively, mainly due to the design features of the online discussions. The study concludes by highlighting some special points to consider when designing and implementing issue-based asynchronous online discussions.
|Keywords:||Asynchronous Online Discussions, Issue-based, Design, Trainee Teachers, Non-Native English Speaking|
Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Sciences, Mauritius Institute of Education, Reduit, Mauritius
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