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Looking for Critical Thinking in Online Threaded Discussions

Journal of Educational Technology Systems Volume 35, Number 3, ISSN 0047-2395


Threaded discussion forums have been a popular topic for the past few years in distance education research and studied as a factor in student participation, satisfaction, learning outcomes, social presence, and interaction. Only recently has it been considered as a potential vehicle for the development of critical thinking skills and deep learning. Thirty-seven current studies on critical inquiry, deep learning. presence, and interaction in distance education were synthesized. The studies were compared for findings about participation quality, participation quantity, critical thinking skills and deep learning, and recommendations. The synthesis revealed that current literature touts the potential for development of deep learning and critical thinking skills through online threaded discussions. For the most part, however, research does not show this happening at a high level or to any great extent. Confounding the issue is the fact that current research is predominated by examination of education and graduate level online classes and is mainly focused on student perceptions and outcomes. This is at odds with the profile of today's "typical" distance education student. The need for more instructor involvement and effort is indicated in much of the research, but bulk of the research has focused on students and not teachers. (Contains 1 table.)


Maurino, P.S.M. (2007). Looking for Critical Thinking in Online Threaded Discussions. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 35(3), 241-260. Retrieved August 13, 2020 from .

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