The article, affirms board discussions as one of the important tools that help learners comprehend, synthesize, and relate the discussion topics with day-to-day occurrences, thus achieving maximum output. In a bid to understand its relevance, Cox (2011) employs the use of a single subject experiment design (A-B-A) to highlight the outcome differences in the baseline behaviour where participation in the discussions is alack versus when the student is encouraged to actively participate in the discussions by their professor.

The article outlines the implications of discussion participation as the primary aim of the study and concurrently solicits the question as to whether the application of the treatment on a baseline behaviour can improve the outcome or not; this has also been covered sufficiently by the article. Additionally, board discussions have been mentioned as the “heart” of online courses prompting the role of the professor in the same (Cox, 2011). The article has adequately addressed the question as to whether the professor has a crucial role in increasing the overall participation of a student in the discussions or not.

The study employed the use of an experimental method as treatment was applied. The first procedure was to assess the baseline behaviour by identifying the subject of the study. The treatment was then instilled by the professor engaging the subject directly in three consecutive weeks of the course (Cox, 2011). This was followed by the withdrawal of the treatment and then followed by reassessing the baseline.

Cox discovered that the treatment had influenced the baseline and it was noted that the subject had shown significant improvement in the levels of involvement in the discussions through questions posted to the professor via email, thus showing a strong aptitude to learn. Even weeks after the withdrawal of treatment, the student’s participation in the discussions remained active and was evident in the number of posts by the subject. The results strongly affirmed that the professor’s intervention had influenced the subject’s participation in the discussions.

One significant implication of the study is magnifying the importance of discussions on the contextualization process of a learner. The result of the study indicates the subject, through the interventions of the professor, shows an increased involvement of the subject on academic issues. According to Cox (2011), bloom’s taxonomy implies the transition from a lower order of thinking to a higher order of thinking, with knowledge as the lowest level in a progressive contextualization of material sequence and evaluation as the highest. The study has shown participation in the discussion positively influences this progression from knowledge to comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Similarly, it has highlighted the role of professors to not only end at the delivery of course content but also to motivate the students to engage in the discussions actively.

The article is vital as it is critical to improving a learner’s productivity in the learning process. It lays a path useful in knowledge acquisition, quality, and full contextualization. It is only suitable that the role of every professor not only stop at knowledge dispensation but should go as far as motivating and helping their students through the discussions.

In the current learning environment, it may be obvious to conceive or perceive a student or a group as lazy or simply unbothered by what is done in class. However, the article opens the fact that some students need to be reached on levels other than just classroom interaction. The discussions and availability of the professor provide a conducive learning environment where a learner can understand more and reach out on challenging tasks. Furthermore, in its conclusion, the article prescribes learner participation as one that is key in increasing learner-instructor interaction and learner-interface, learner-content, and learner-leaner interaction. In general, the report, in its results, offers insights that should be implemented to increase learner class productivity.


Cox, T. D. (2011). The Absent Graduate Student: An A-B-A Single-Subject Experiment of Online Discussion Participation. The Journal of Effective Teaching11(2), 96-109.

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