Comparing Effects of Instructor-led and Technology-enhanced Scaffolding on Student Knowlege Construction in Online Discussion Forums

Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Professional Studies in Instructional Design Leadership (DPS)

Committee Chair

Meghan Raehll

Committee Member

Matthew Barclay

Committee Member

Lewis Chongwony


Discussion board forums have become commonplace within online learning environments (OLEs). With student enrollment in online classes continuing to rise and the emergence of COVID-19, more students will be utilizing discussion forums within OLEs than ever before. Positive pedagogical support for the use of discussion forums abounds, but studies on the efficacy of discussions in online forums show mixed results. This study seeks to compare two types of discussion forums. One type, instructor-led scaffolding, was designed with pedagogy such as feedback, discussion prompts, and scaffolding implemented by the instructor. The second type, technology-enhanced scaffolding, was designed to foster autonomous motivation in students, while some feedback and scaffolding were implemented automatically by the technology-enhanced platform and offloaded onto discussion TAs provided for instructors by the platform. The study used the Interaction Analysis Model (IAM) to measure student knowledge construction levels and interpreted results to determine the impact of pedagogical design implementation on student knowledge construction in undergraduate online learning environments.