RAP ON: “Things will be different on the next test” – Expectations vs Reality of changing how we study.

About the Author: William Rayo, MAT is a graduate student in the applied cognition area of the School of Psychological Science at Oregon State University. This is part of our series of Research Advancing Pedagogy (RAP) blogs, designed to share  pedagogical research from across the disciplines in a pragmatic format. 

When it comes to studying, how students go about it can vary as much as when they go about it. In the last few years researchers have been trying to figure out what methods work by seeing how students actually study for their classes.

We’ve learned that one of the key contributors to enduring understandings is the use of Active learning strategies such as retrieval practice (e.g. self-quizzing), elaborative interrogation, and distributed practice (for a review see Dunlosky et al. 2013). Even though studying with these methods is more difficult they actually lead to greater levels of long-term learning. In contrast students tend to prefer studying by rereading, highlighting, or rewriting notes that feel easier even if they lead to lower levels of long-term learning (also known as passive learning strategies).

The study we’re going to dive into today goes one step further by examining how students across two intro psych classes and an upper-level psych course evaluate their performance after an exam, plan modifications to their study strategies/habits, and follow up to see which modifications were actually implemented.

What did they do?

Rowell et al. (2020) investigated how students across two Intro Psych classes and an upper-level psychology course revised their study strategies in preparation for Exam 2 after receiving their Exam 1 scores. Students were asked what habits they wanted to maintain/change and to make a specific study plan. A week before exam 2 the researchers followed up to identify which behaviors actually changed. They also predicted that students who used active strategies would outperform those who mainly used passive ones. (attempting to control for ACT, Exam 1 score, study time)

What did they find?

The number one strategy that students wanted to keep was an active learning strategy endorsed by the professor, quizzing (retrieval practice). Second on the list was a passive learning strategy, rereading.

The most common changes students wanted to make in preparation for exam 2 were changes to study contexts (e.g., reducing cramming and distractions).

So, what strategies did they actually use?

The good: When we ask about the two most commonly used strategies, we see a reduction in the use of some passive learning strategies such as reading notes and the textbook. We also see an increase in the number of students who reported using the active learning strategies of quizzing or flashcards (retrieval practice) as well as explaining to self/others. As predicted students who identified both of their most used study practices as active strategies outperformed those who reported mostly using either mixed or two passive strategies on exam 2.

The not so good: the proportion of students reading the slides (passive learning) increased from Exam 1 to Exam 2. For active learning strategies the proportion of students answering textbook questions for practice diminished as well as explaining to self/others.

What are the Big Takeaway’s for instructors?

Students are going to utilize a blend of strategies that are familiar in addition to trying out a few new ones. It is important to educate our students on the more effective study strategies since most students display a willingness to try something new. In the meantime, while we wait for active learning strategies to gain momentum a temporary fix might exist in helping students improve the quality of their preferred strategies. For a deeper look at how we can help students improve their preferred strategies see Miyatsu et al. (2018).

Re-reading can be made more effective by encouraging students to space out the instances where they engage in it instead of cramming the night (or morning) before the exam. It’s possible that the overwhelming majority students who reported reading their notes in preparation for the exam could benefit from some direct instruction with examples on how to take efficient notes. Whether they prefer to take them longhand or via keyboard (Urri et al. 2019).

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest14(1), 4–58. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100612453266
Miyatsu, T., Nguyen, K., & McDaniel, M. A. (2018). Five popular study strategies: Their pitfalls and optimal implementations. Perspectives on Psychological Science13(3), 390–407. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617710510
Rowell, S. F., Frey, R. F., & Walck-Shannon, E. M. (2020). Intended and Actual Changes in Study Behaviors in an Introductory and Upper-Level Psychology Course. Teaching of Psychology, 009862832097989. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628320979893
Urry, H. L. (2019). Don’t Ditch the Laptop Just Yet: A Direct Replication of Mueller and Oppenheimer’s (2014) Study 1 Plus Mini-Meta-Analyses Across Similar Studies [Preprint]. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/vqyw6


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Feeling Burnt Out?

About the author: Inara Scott, Ph.D. is Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning Excellence in the OSU College of Business. She also serves as the 2020-21 Provost’s Fellow.

As we draw close to the one year mark from when we left campus, I’m hearing more and more from faculty and students who are feeling–to put it mildly–burnt out. I’m not a mental health expert, but it doesn’t take a PhD or training in psychology to know that people are tired. Tired of the pandemic. Tired of remote teaching and learning. Tired of being isolated, scared, and anxious. Tired of not feeling in control of their classrooms and their lives. This may all be natural and par for the course, but it is still a reality we have to cope with.

I would encourage anyone feeling overwhelmed to take advantage of OSU’s mental health resources for employees and students. But for those of us who may want some help finding a way to get our feet back underneath us in the classroom, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself: is this assignment necessary? In the interest of engagement and authentic assessment, many faculty added additional assignments to their classes in the form of weekly quizzes, reading responses, discussion, and papers. From an engagement standpoint, this is awesome–unless it’s contributing to burn out that directly undermines the goal of the assignment! Now that we are a year into the pandemic, ask yourself–is the time that students and I are putting into this assignment really worth it? What are the learning objectives this assignment seeks to achieve? Is there a way I can combine two assignments to get that same outcome?

Use the Workload Estimator 2.0  to make informed estimates of the time it will take students to complete various assignments. Then consider the OSU definition of a credit, “One credit is generally given for three hours per week of work in and out of class,” as a guideline to determine whether your course workload is commensurate with the number of credits.

  1. Reduce your grading burden. Students want and need real time feedback to be successful. If you’ve added a lot of graded assignments, you may find yourself falling behind in your grading–or being so exhausted you no longer can give it the attention it deserves. In these situations, consider how you could increase the efficiency of your grading while still giving students real time feedback. Could you use a rubric instead of writing free hand comments?
    Attaching a Canvas rubric to an assignment can increase the efficiency and consistency of the grading process of Canvas assignments, quizzes, and discussions. It also spells out your expectations for student work.

Can you reduce the grading scale to reduce complexity of grading (from say, an assignment worth 20 points to an assignment worth 5 points)? Changing from a 10 point to a 5 point scale for in-class assignments (5=exceeds; 4=meets; 3-1=does not meet) greatly reduced the time I spent on my grading!

3. Use Canvas quiz statistics to calibrate your (and your students’) expectations. How long does it actually take students to complete your quizzes? Are you giving them too little time? Too much? Which questions are they getting wrong? Can you figure out why they might be confused and adjust your lectures to address the issue? If you’re giving a quiz that most students run out of time to complete, you may not be getting an accurate snapshot of your students’ mastery of the information–while increasing their anxiety. On the other hand, if most students complete the quiz in half the time available, consider adjusting the quiz time down to ensure that they prepare adequately (and reduce cheating). In this case, make sure to let students know ahead of time that the next quiz will feel more time pressured, and give them strategies for mastering the material!

  1. Share what you’ll do differently this spring.We are all still learning how to teach remotely, and we can all learn from each other. Think about what you’ll do differently this spring. Please share your tips, ideas, and plans with your College Peer Supporters or the CTL staff so they can inform our teaching community!

Thank you for all your hard work.


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Join Spring Learning Community: Due Date Extended

flowers and statue - OSUThere’s still plenty of time to get your proposal in to join the Spring ’21 Blended Faculty Learning Community. The due date has been extended to March 8. Professional development funding is provided!

The Spring learning community will explore and develop solutions for personal teaching challenges through effective use of educational technology. These challenges may be in any Corvallis or Cascades campus course modality.

Current participants appreciate the value of the time the learning community provides for discussing teaching methods and tools with faculty from across the university. This is a great way to reignite your passion for teaching and learning in a supportive environment.

Instructors and tenured/tenure-track faculty who teach credit-based Corvallis and Cascades campus courses are eligible to apply. See the Call for Proposals–it’s a quick and easy proposal process–and apply by March 8.

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RAP ON: Get Students to Take Notes (on Laptop or Otherwise): A key replication failure.

About the author: Regan A. R. Gurung, Ph.D. is the Interim Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Oregon State University and Professor of Psychological Science. This is part of our series of Research Advancing Pedagogy (RAPblogs, designed to share the latest pedagogical research from across the disciplines in a pragmatic format. Photo Credit: Cub Kahn.

Misdirection. Works like a charm. You get so caught up in something that you completely miss what is actually more important. Misdirection can thwart the nefarious plans of movie villains and sometimes (temporarily) prevent the heroine from saving the day. It also takes place in higher education.

After a well-publicized study (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014), faculty around the countryside banned students from using laptops in class, instead pointing to the empirical evidence for the benefits of taking notes longhand. A brand new study (Urry et al. 2021) failed to replicate that finding.  Will the pendulum swing with faculty being more open to laptops in class? Beware of misdirection. What is actually important is instructors need to foster note-taking, in whatever form it is done. But first, the replication.

What was done? In this lab study, the researchers had participants take notes with a laptop or a pen while they watched TED Talks. There was a delay during which the participants were distracted, followed by a quiz on the material from the talks. Undergraduate college students from Tufts University (a total of 145) volunteered for the study.  Each student watched one of the five talks. Sixty-eight students were told to take notes on a laptop, and 74 took notes via longhand. Students were predominantly third year students and 62% identified as female.  Each talk lasted about 15 minutes, and the quiz were part recall of facts, and part application. That’s not all. The researchers also looked at other similar studies on the topic.

What did they find? There was no difference in how well the students performed on the factual recall questions as a function of how they took notes. This was similar to the 2014 study. The difference, and failure to replicate, came when Urry et al. analyzed performance on the applied questions. Again, there was no difference in scores based on note-taking style (see Figures). Students who used a laptop did write down more words. Yes, when using a laptop, students also recorded more of the lecture directly (a higher overlap).

Urry et al. (2021) also found 8 similar studies, that also aimed to replicate the 2014 results.  The studies compared also used similar methodologies with slight variations. The effect of taking notes longhand was not statistically significant.

What does this mean for us?  This small body of lab based studies suggest instructors need not be concerned about what students are using to take notes. When students use a laptop to take notes, they may write down more words, and more directly record what they are hearing, but this does not necessarily mean they do better on exams. It does not mean they do worse either. Let us not be misdirected.

The research discussed is primarily lab based and cannot capture many ways that real classrooms (remote or in-person) operate. Instructors speak at different speeds, have slides that vary in how much content is presented, the use of questioning, discussion, and active learning, and in the balance of fact sharing versus skill development.

The bigger point is this:  Students should take notes, a major item on lists of academic tips. None of the studies above have a comparison condition where the students are not taking notes. In many classes and especially during the pandemic with remote learning, students do not take good (or any) notes. In fact, note-taking is a key example of self-regulation- students decide when something is important, recording the information, then use the notes to assess their understanding as they revise notes and then review for an exam. According to cognitive science, notes help you with four major learning goals: selection, construction, integration, and acquisition. These four goals serve the greater purpose of helping students encode the material for storage.

Let’s not forget another critical point. Laptops can be distracting. In one study, students using laptops only spent 37% of the time on class related work (Ragan et al., 2014).

All in all, there is no clear evidence to support one form of note-taking over another. Our time as educators (and parents) would be better spent showing students how to take good notes, instead of focusing too much on the medium.

Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2018). “The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking”: Corrigendum. Psychological Science, 29(9), 1565–1568.
Ragan, E. D., Jennings, S. R., Massey, J. D., & Doolittle, P. E. (2014). Unregulated use of laptops over time in large lecture classes. Computers & Education, 78, 78–86.
Urry, H. L., et al.(2021). Don’t ditch the laptop just yet: A direct replication of Mueller and Oppenheimer’s (2014) study 1 plus mini-meta-analyses across similar studies. Psychological Science.


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Be a Part of the Spring ’21 Blended Faculty Learning Community

rhododendron blooming at OSUGuess what? Spring is only 5 weeks away! That means it’s time to submit your proposal to join the Spring ’21 Blended Faculty Learning Community. This learning community is co-sponsored by Academic Technology and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Twenty teaching faculty from 9 different Oregon State University colleges have enjoyed the camaraderie of participating in the Fall and Winter blended learning communities during this academic year. As with previous cohorts, group members in the Spring learning community will explore and develop solutions for personal teaching challenges through effective use of educational technology. These challenges may be in any Corvallis or Cascades campus course format that combines synchronous meetings (think classroom or Zoom) and asynchronous learning activity (think Canvas or other online tools).

What do current participants say about the learning community? Penny Diebel, associate professor of applied economics, comments, “It is not often I have dedicated time to reflect and have deep conversations with others about my teaching methods. I have appreciated that this Faculty Learning Community has made me make time.”

Austin Hawks, senior instructor in the Eastern Oregon Agriculture and Natural Resource Program, notes, “The Blended FLC has been an extraordinary group to be a part of. The support, ideas and enthusiasm have helped me think about options in being the great teacher I want to be.  This opportunity is for all, regardless of their rank, experience, years teaching, etc.”

The facilitators also cite positives about the learning community. Lyn Riverstone, Student Response System Manager in Academic Technology, states, “It’s inspiring to see all the innovative approaches faculty are taking to apply instructional technology to improve student learning!”

Demian Hommel, co-facilitator and senior instructor of geography, notes, “It’s rewarding to see teaching faculty make progress on challenges in their classes. Co-facilitating this learning community has been the highlight of my year professionally.”

Instructors and tenured/tenure-track faculty who teach credit-based Corvallis and Cascades campus courses are eligible to apply. See the Call for Proposals–it’s a quick and easy proposal process–and apply by March 8. Professional development funding is provided.

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Motivating Students to Complete Pre-Class Readings: Strategies and Tips

Reading is critical to academic learning. Yet, the perennial lament among university professors is, “Why won’t students just do the reading?” It is reported that only 30% of students read the assigned material before class on any given day (Bhavsar, 2020; Hattenberg & Steffy, 2013; Hoeft, 2012). The reasons for not reading encompass poor reading comprehension, time constraints, lack of interest in the reading material, as well as inadvertent signals from faculty that completing reading material is of low value. Why read if the material that was supposed to be read out of class is repeated in lectures?

What are effective teaching and assessment methods for getting students to come to class having read the assigned material? Hattenberg and Steffy (2013) conducted a study that included 438 students enrolled in eight introductory sociology courses to examine effective compliance reading techniques. The results showed that announced quizzes, required reading questions, and required short writing assignments were the most effective methods whereas unannounced reading quizzes, optional reading guides, and being called on randomly in class were the least effective compliance methods. In addition, the noncompliant readers in Hoeft’s (2012) study recommended giving quizzes and supplementary assignments as effective methods for getting students to read.

It is evident that announced quizzes and required writing assignments are effective in achieving reading compliance. But are they really effective in motivating students to come to class prepared, and in supporting their learning in the long run? There is also the caveat that relying on these compliance methods may seem punitive to students, and that at best, they only promote surface, not deep reading. To expand the teaching and assessment repertoire for motivating students to read and complete class preparatory work, I propose five strategies in this resource guide:

  • Rethink Syllabus Reading Lists: The starting point in motivating students to read is to ensure that assigned readings are closely aligned with course learning outcomes. Use a “triage process” to classify each reading material according to its relevance to student learning success in the course. For example, consider using “absolutely essential,” “good supporting material,” and “exotic—appealing to experts” (Hobson, 2004, p. 3). The materials categorized as essential become the required course readings. Also, entice students to read by including different kinds of reading and media in the required reading selections.
  • Use Transparency: Transparency calls for clear clarification and intentional discussion of the connection of each assignment to the learning outcomes, the focusing topic/module, and students’ personal and professional goals and interests. Explain the purpose of each reading assignment, the task that students are required to perform, and the criteria for assessing their performance. Transparency supports the expectancy-value-cost theory of motivation. The more transparent an assignment is as exemplified by clear and friendly explanation of its benefits, task requirements, and performance criteria, the more students are motivated to accomplish it (Bhasvar, 2020; Ford, 2016).
  • Support Deep Reading: Help students transition from surface reading to deep reading by using handouts, guides, and effective teaching strategies to help them get the most out of what they are reading. Where possible, teach reading skills directly or indirectly, by modeling how you make meaning when reading a complex material.
  • Build Community—Peer-to-Peer Interaction: Students thrive when they are actively engaged in learning with their peers. Incorporate peer-to-peer interaction surrounding readings to motivate students to complete pre-class readings, and to come to class prepared.
  • Require Accountability: Tie a portion of the course grade to reading to hold students accountable for completing pre-class preparation assignments (Johnson, 2019). However, instead of relying exclusively on quizzes, consider using a variety of methods for example individual or group writing assignments, presentations and structured debates to encourage deep reading (Shaw, 2012).

Finally, it is apparent that giving students global reading assignments for example “Remember to read chapter 12 before the next class” is not a great inducement for getting them to read. Motivating students to complete pre-class readings requires careful planning, clear instructions and effective teaching activities to support deep reading, as well as the application of conducive accountability methods. Moreover, language matters. Consider renaming reading assignments as learning opportunities to emphasize their focus on learning, not on fulfilling the professor’s expectations (Farias, et al. 2010).


Bhavsar, V. M. (2020). A transparent assignment to encourage reading for a flipped course. College Teaching, 68(1), 33-44.

Farias, G., Farias, C.M., & Fairfield, K. D. (2010). Teacher as a judge: The dilemma of grades versus learning. Journal of Education for Business, 85, 336-342.

Ford, N. M. (2016). Expanded transparency and enhanced reading in the first-year literature survey. Journal of Excellence in College Teaching, 27(4), 19-30.

Hattenberg, S. J., & Steffy, K. (2013). Increasing reading compliance of undergraduates: An evaluation of compliance methods. Teaching Sociology, 41(4), 346-352.

Hobson, E.H. (2004). Getting students to read: Fourteen tips. IDEA Paper No. 40, Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development.

Hoeft, M. E. (2012). Why university students don’t read: What professors can do to increase compliance. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(2), 1-19.

Johnson, S. (2019). The fall, and rise of reading. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Shaw, J. (2012). Using Small Group Debates to Actively Engage Students in an Introductory Microbiology Course. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, 13(2), 155-160.

Instructional Consultant, Center for Teaching and Learning

Join me for sparkshops



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Introducing the Career Champions Program

by Brenna Gomez, University Innovation Alliance Fellow, Office of Undergraduate Education.

The Career Champions Program is a professional development opportunity for faculty and instructors to learn about barriers to access for first generation students, students of color, and low-income students, while also incorporating more career connection in the classroom. Our curriculum was developed collaboratively with a cross-campus group of teaching and professional faculty.

This six-week program is run in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Career Development Center. Cohorts of 14-15 faculty/instructors will receive a $500 honorarium for their participation in the program. Over the course of the six weeks, faculty will participate in one synchronous session per week and one-two asynchronous hours of work on their own. At the end of the course participants will have completed:

  • a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) competency map to align their curriculum with career readiness competencies
  • the development of a NACE career competency statement for their syllabi
  • the redesign of an activity or assignment of their choice
  • a teaching philosophy that outlines the other changes they will make to their course and why

Applicants should have completed some form of diversity, equity, and inclusion training at OSU or elsewhere. Applicants need not be DEI experts but should have some familiarity with DEI concepts. Career Champions is accepting applications February 8- March 12, 2021. Apply here. The Spring 2021 cohort will convene April 12th-May 21st. Participants must be available for all sessions to be accepted in the program. Synchronous sessions will occur on Friday afternoons at 1:00 p.m.

This program was originally piloted as part of the Bridging the Gap from Education to Employment (BGEE) project with the University Innovation Alliance. The University Innovation Alliance is a coalition of public research universities committed to increasing the number and diversity of college graduates. Over 50 students were interviewed for BGEE, and they overwhelming stated that they wanted to learn more about career opportunities and pathways from their faculty members. Career Champions is grateful to our extensive list of former committee members.

In particular we’d like to recognize the following individuals who were responsible for the creation of the curriculum in this program:

  • Charlene Martinez, Associate Director of Student Experiences and Engagement
  • Liddy Detar, Senior Instructor and Academic Advisor
  • Jeff Kenney, Director of Institutional Education for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Kenton Hokanson, Instructor, Research Associate, and Director of Electrophysiology Core Facility
  • Brian Fronk, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
  • Scott Paja, former Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning and Employer Relations in the College of Engineering

Career Champions Facilitators:

  • Jonathan Stoll, Director of Career Education, Career Development Center
  • Brenna Gomez, University Innovation Alliance Fellow, Office of Undergraduate Education

Program Coordinators:

  • Brandi Fuhrman, Executive Director, Career Development Center
  • Brenna Gomez, University Innovation Alliance Fellow, Office of Undergraduate Education
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Learn to Blend Your Teaching with Instructional Media

Rhododendron blossoms on MU Quad Are you starting to think ahead to Spring term? Would you like to augment your strategies to engage learners?

Discover ways to create instructional media and to apply effective practices for blended, remote, flipped and hybrid course design and teaching. In these hour-long workshops, CTL and Academic Technology invite you to learn about harnessing the power of media to engage students.

When: Either Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. or Thursday, Feb. 11, at 10 a.m.

Where: Register now and we’ll send you the Zoom link prior to the workshop.

Questions: Contact the Faculty Media Center.

We look forward to seeing you on the 10th or 11th!

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Building Instructor Presence: The Little Things Matter

Have you wondered what it looks like to “show up” for your remote students? Are you seeking ways to enhance your presence through Canvas? View this recently recorded OSU workshop, “Building Instructor Presence,” to learn how much the little things you can do to be present matter to your students: https://beav.es/Jcf

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Facilitating Online Discussions in Blended and Remote Courses – Why Does It Matter?

By Beata Anderson, Blended Learning Intern, Center for Teaching and Learning

Laptop on tableDiscussion between students and faculty plays an important role in teaching and learning. Consistent interaction helps students improve their education outcomes and helps educators support the learning and success of all their students. “Education researchers and curriculum designers attach important roles to learning through discussions in higher education, because discussions enable students to actively participate in the process of knowledge construction through communication” (Han & Ellis, 2019).

The COVID-19 pandemic, meanwhile, has changed the concept of face-to-face interaction and discussion. More and more on-campus courses have some blended learning structure integrated. To prepare for the future of education, it is important to facilitate discussions in online and blended courses so they can be delivered effectively and reduce problems.

One of the challenges with discussions in remote and blended learning is that they are more difficult to navigate than in-class discussions because learners are more responsible for managing their time and participating in discussions. Learners must be adept at checking schedules, setting reminders for themselves, and remembering deadlines. Furthermore, they must also hold themselves more accountable than they would in a traditional class and mitigate distractions. This is especially important to ensure active engagement, which is critical in both remote and blended courses. Facilitators must create understandable, effective communications that promote engagement on the discussion board and remind students of expectations surrounding participation.

For example, the instructor must present clearly documented expectations for discussion participation and provide carefully structured discussion prompts. This can be difficult, but when done well it can lead to outcomes at least to face-to-face discussions. “It is widely reported that online discussions play an integral role in facilitating student’s learning, as well as fostering dialogue, critical thinking and reflective inquiry” (Maher & DeCosta, 2014).

Practices for facilitating successful online discussion include making sure all of the students are heard. When a student is not participating, it is important to reach out to them. Additionally, replying to selected posts and/or bringing up online discussion content in class can be important so students feel heard, will stay engaged, and can see how the discussions are integrated with other learning activities and content in the course. Consistent, timely feedback helps students understand and further analyze discussed topics.

Another potential challenge with online and blended discussions that educators must be aware of is how to keep things civil and to promote constructive, collegial dialogue. Discussions can get heated between students, and in an online environment some students may feel more empowered to voice a strong opinion and refute others. Lisa Dadio, a graduate program coordinator at the University of New Haven, provides online students a tip sheet that concludes, “Above all else, think before you post. If you wouldn’t say something to a classmate or your instructor face-to-face, then don’t post it online” (Dimeo, 2017).

When executed correctly there are many benefits to online and blended discussions. Students can participate in discussions from anywhere at any time, which is not possible in face-to-face discussions.

Additionally, students who do not normally participate in face-to-face discussions may participate more in online and blended discussions, where they feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts. This all leads to more engagement, better discussions, and a discussion environment where students are better able to critically think about their responses.

As such, online and blended discussions can be less reactive. Students who participate in face-to-face discussions cannot take too long to think about responses, whereas those in an online and blended discussion can read a post, take time to reflect on it, and respond to it at a later time. They are thus better able to make an informed response.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the future of education. This is nowhere more evident than in how online and blended discussions are part of the new normal. Educators must continue to promote discussions both synchronously (classroom or Zoom) and asynchronously (in the LMS or other platforms) with clear structure for students to follow. If they do, both students and educators will benefit!


Dimeo, J. (2017). Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved December 10, 2020, from https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2017/09/13/how-keep-discourse-civil-online-courses

Han, F., & Ellis, R. A. (2019). Identifying consistent patterns of quality learning discussions in  blended learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 40, 12-19. From: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S1096751618302768?token=C842A96DFFB5195CD16DE32A81C93149C0B078541CC74199CBA800F189C14A44D12BF0A569420BFCD19506B85059C29D

Maher, S., & DeCosta, M. (2014, August 11). The Art and Science of Successful Online Discussions. Retrieved December 10, 2020, from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/art-science-successful-online-discussions/

Beata AndersonBeata Anderson is a Blended Learning Intern at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Oregon State University. She is originally from Poland and moved to the United States in her early adulthood. First, she lived in Chicago, Illinois, before moving to Eugene, Oregon. She now lives in the greater Seattle area. Beata holds a bachelor’s degree of Arts in General Social Science from University of Oregon and is pursuing a master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education from Oregon State University. Beata also has worked in higher education for eight years and enjoys helping students succeed. Beata loves to travel, and she has been to different parts of the world. In her free time Beata likes to read and learn new things.

Laptop photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash

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