Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Anchoring for Self-Efficacy and Success: An Anchored Asynchronous Online Discussion Case

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Anchoring for Self-Efficacy and Success: An Anchored Asynchronous Online Discussion Case

Article excerpt


People with a high degree of efficacy are more likely to put forth greater effort towards meeting their goal (Kirk, 2012). For students, that goal is to successfully complete challenging courses. Statistics is a required component of business and information systems curricula. Undergraduate business students tend to find business statistics to be one of their most difficult courses. It has not been uncommon to find students in the College of Business and Economics repeating this course for the third or fourth time because of D, F or Withdrawal grades. This motivated us to study the problem.

Previously, most research has focused on developing predictive models of attributes of success (Rochelle & Dotterweich, 2007) or assessment of prerequisites (Islam et al., 2005). While the above-noted research focused on preparation for success, the research has not addressed the goal of helping students who are not well prepared to be successful in (i.e., at least pass) business statistics classes.

Students who are apprehensive about learning statistics and those who have trouble doing computations tend to have a high level of anxiety (Bawden & Robinson 2009; Pace & Barchard 2006). This apprehension comes from a tacit assumption that students must understand every word spoken by their instructors and to their unsatisfactory experience with classroom activities (Vandergrift, 2003). Classroom activities are generally teacher-centered giving the role to the instructor as the source of all understandings. Students are treated as passive listeners and dependent on the teacher for their learning. In their struggle to stay current with the course, some give up or lose interest. Others develop a negative perception of the course. We heard some comments about the course such as "it is not interesting" and "I only need it to graduate."

However, instructors can help students avoid some of the in-class frustrations and prepare them when they are outside of the classroom. To supplement face-to-face (F2F) classroom meetings, online discussions can be used to help increase student involvement and effort, and facilitate their knowledge building (Lord & Lomicka, 2008). By extending the means of interaction from the walls of the classroom to the online environment, instructors stand to enhance the student experience and in fact can benefit from the notion that people typically are not single-method learners (Masie, 2002).

Davies and Barak (2013) suggested that through social online interaction, student peers can articulate complex ideas in the language and phrases that they are most comfortable using. Bandura (1986, 1997) found that people are more likely to engage in a certain activity when they believe that they are capable of succeeding in performing the activity. Their belief is related to their self-confidence. An increase in their confidence will more likely help them complete a task successfully, whereas low self-efficacy beliefs tend to hinder educational attainment and progress. To this end, we employed two forms of asynchronous online discussions with the initial aim of improving and promoting student engagement and success in the course.


2.1. Standard online discussions

Figure 1 shows a screenshot of an interface for an asynchronous online discussion (AOD) from a Moodle-based online discussion system. The Moddle-based system has a similar mechanism for making posts as Blackboard[R]. Both systems have very long threads of comments and replies. In Figure 1, the students' names are covered to protect their identity and privacy. We have observed and received feedback from students about the difficulty of navigating through these long threads.

Students found themselves consuming a significant amount of time by having to go over the replies and often through many repeats such as "I agree," and "Thank you very much. …

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