Skip to main content


We know that providing learners with an opportunity to communicate with others can enhance the overall learning experience. But do instructors’ messages on discussion boards and other similar social tools improve learning? A 2017 article from the journal Online Learning suggests that the characteristics, but not the frequency, of these messages can positively influence learner outcomes. Specifically, both instructional and conversational-style posts from instructors correlated with an increase in learners’ academic performance and their perceptions of the instructor and course quality.

So, the next time you’re teaching an online class or workshop, jump into the chat. Your learners will probably appreciate an opportunity to get to know you, and you could be positively influencing their opinion of you, their feelings about the course, and their own progress.

Key Takeaway

In this relatively small mixed-methods study, two types of messages from instructors had a positive correlation with learning outcomes: conversational and instructional.

Read More (open)

Hoey, R. (2017). A Critical Analysis of Characteristics that Influence the Effect of Instructor Discussion Interaction on Student Outcomes. Online Learning, 21(4).

Subscribe to Learning Science Weekly

This article review and summary was included in Learning Science Weekly, a weekly newsletter published by the researchers in Intellum's Learning Science department. If you'd like more recommendations on how you can apply findings from the learning sciences into your practice, subscribe today!

Did this article help?

Let us know by leaving a star rating or review at the top of this article.