Ask Me Again and I’ll Tell You the Same: The Influence of Question Design

Online Events Archive

Online Forums 2011 - January 21, 2011
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Barbara Hall, PhD

Assistant Professor
Ashford University

The quality of responses posted in online course rooms ranges from substantive to irrelevant. One element that may influence the quality of course room discourse is question type, particularly the multiple questions or prompts that are designed within the instructional materials for the purpose of generating and guiding the course discussions. Thus, these initial questions are distinguished from the moderating questions used by the course room facilitator. Different types of question prompts elicit different responses and may lead to different learning effects. Instructional designers need to be equipped with research-based recommendations for question design in online courses.

This session will address the need for instructional designers to understand the implications of question design in online courses. Participants will explore the historical and contemporary research on the influence of question type on learning outcomes. This research summary, which culminates in a series of recommendations for designing initial question prompts, provides the knowledge foundation necessary to understand the recommended design guidelines. Well-designed question prompts may influence the quality of course-room discourse, and the quality of course-room discourse can influence the learning outcomes.

In this session, you will learn:

  • The influence of initial questions or prompts on the threaded discussions in online learning
  • How the research on question design has evolved in the last two decades
  • The relationship between initial questions or prompts and subsequent responses
  • Research-based recommendations for initial question design for online course rooms


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