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Effectiveness of Online Discussions in Developing Higher Order Thinking Skills

Asma Zafar

Online discussion is a major instructional component of e- learning. It promotes students’ critical thinking about course materials and thereby sharpens their higher order thinking skills (HOTS). In this context, this study documents the perceived effectiveness of Graded Discussion Board (GDB) discussions in the Psychology courses of Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP). The main objectives of this study were (i) to find out whether GDB discussion facilitate in developing HOTS among students or not and (ii) to determine the effectiveness of GDB discussions in enhancing their analytical and problem solving abilities. The data was collected through an online survey. The sample size was 78 enrolled students in three psychology courses: Clinical Psychology (PSY 401), Abnormal Psychology (PSY 404) and Sport Psychology (PSY 407). Descriptive statistics, one-sample t-test, and independent sample t-test were used to analyze the data. The results of the study revealed that GDB discussions enhance students’ subject-related knowledge as well as help them in sharpening their analytical skills. This study by focusing on the role of GDB discussions in enhancing students’ HOTS is also expected to provide e-educators and policy makers a food for thought to look for innovative methods of polishing subject specific cognitive skills of students particularly in an e-learning environment.

Online Discussion, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Graded Discussion Board, Critical Thinking, Cognitive Skills.

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