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Constructing Student Knowledge in the Online Classroom: The Effectiveness of Focal Prompts

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of three Structured Divergent discussion board prompt designs on knowledge construction in a graduate online course. According to Andrews (1980), the form of the question affects the extent of the response within a discussion. The Playground prompt, the Brainstorming prompt, and the Focal prompt were implemented in an online classroom to determine impact on student knowledge construction. The Interaction Analysis Model (IAM) tool was used to investigate the online discussion posts. Concept maps were also developed representing the concepts learned. The Focal Prompt design proved most effective in encouraging knowledge construction among online graduate students. The Focal Prompt design requires students to choose an argument and support the view point with a rationale. By doing so, students were better able to construct knowledge as related to course content. The results of this study can be used by instructors and curriculum designers to create a more effective online experience which furthers student knowledge and learning in the online classroom.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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  • College Student Journal publishes original investigations and theoretical papers dealing with college student values, attitudes, opinions, and learning. Topics include the areas of undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, and may also include selected contributions dealing with college preparation.

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