From confounded to common ground: Misunderstandings between tertiary teachers and students in online discussions

Dianne Forbes, Dilani Gedera


Drawing on findings from two studies, this article focuses on the expectations of students and teachers in higher education, when learning via asynchronous online discussions. In particular, this synthesis highlights a divergence of expectations. The first study investigated how students and teachers experienced asynchronous online discussion within initial teacher education at undergraduate level. The second study examined factors that affect learner engagement within asynchronous online discussions at a postgraduate level. A synthesis of key findings proposes that learning and teaching in higher education can be enhanced by awareness of how participants experience the situation. Common misunderstandings between students and teachers in online classes revolve around presence, formative/summative dimensions, language, and literature. Highlighting misunderstandings enables possibilities for negotiation, change, and improvement. While discussing the common ground for negotiation, this article suggests pedagogical strategies for effective communication and enhancement of online learning in higher education.


tertiary education; online learning; student expectations; pedagogy

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