University of Tasmania

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Empowering students: reimagining the role of discussion boards to improve graduate success

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 21:44 authored by Allison JamesAllison James, Carey MatherCarey Mather, Tracy DouglasTracy Douglas

Creating opportunities for student empowerment through best practice learning and teaching via online discussion boards is an outcome of our peer professional learning circle. Reflecting on our research, we have a vision for campus-based teaching utilising a blended/hybrid approach, focusing on industry-specific learning and graduate outcomes. We empower students to discuss key concepts and contemporary issues to guide independent thinking and learning. We engage diverse cohorts of students via scaffolding knowledge. We use discussions to effectively incorporate knowledge connections (in first year health units) and current workplace issues (in final year maritime logistics and health units), positively impacting graduate success.

Through discussion, we harness self-directed learning by recognising prior learning and life experiences. Discussion boards support learning in a safe, structured environment, empowering students to confidently undertake learning tasks - students ask questions of each other, educators guide discussions and responses. This back-and-forth conversation contrasts with being lectured to, systematically scaffolding learning and discipline-specific terminology, transferable to work environments. Active student-centred learning enables teaching strategies for multiple learning styles. Opportunities arise for harnessing diversity, providing a nuanced online conversation, leading to fresh ways of conducting teaching, assessment strategies and unit content.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed higher education learning and teaching (Douglas et al 2020), enabling a renewed, nuanced focus applicable to communicating in a digital world. This presentation focuses on how online discussion empowers students to connect knowledge vital for graduate success. Exemplars from a first-year unit and final-year units demonstrate how discussion boards are reimagined to enable graduate success.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 21st Annual Teaching Matters conference




1 piece- abstract


Australian Maritime College


University of Tasmania

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Annual Teaching Matters conference

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Assessment, development and evaluation of curriculum

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