Student Performance and Critical Thinking Skills: Online Discussion Boards in a Computer Science Operating Systems Course


  • Richard Fulton
  • Diane Fulton


As online courses and programs proliferate, more and more students are experiencing the benefits of online technologies within their coursework. Technology tools such as the online discussion forum (ODF) are becoming commonplace and researchers want to know the impact of these tools on student learning and achievement. In this study, 159 computer science students use the ODF in an online operating systems course. The use of ODF, based upon problem-based learning and engagement theories, are explored as to the effectiveness of higher-order skill attainment and overall student performance in the course. Performance is evaluated using the final exam and final grade. Students who scored well in the ODFs that asked higher order skill questions, such as analysis and application, attained better results on some higher order thinking questions on the final exam. Significant results are also found in the ANOVA and regression analysis between the effective use of critical thinking skills in the discussion boards and student performance measures overall.






Innovations and Future Directions in Education