Zhong, Q.M. Norton, H. (2018). Educational Affordances of an Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum for Language Learners. TESL-EJ, 22 (3).
This study asks the question, “What affordances does an asynchronous discussion board offer to second language learners ?” It describes some of the potential of this type of discussion, including providing time to reflect and research before responding and providing a non-threatening and collaborative learning environment. Although literature on this topic exists in fields other than second language acquisition, the authors intend for this study to fill the gap that exists on its beneficial affordances in SLA. A literature review is provided on Affordance Theory and the use of asynchronous online discussion.
The authors identify four themes (Co-constructive collaborative e-learning environment, Group affiliations, Critical thinking and Learner autonomy) and sub-themes that emerged from the peer-moderated discussion forum. Although the study took place in a joint business degree articulation between a New Zealand and Chinese institution, many of the sub-themes would be familiar to settlement language programs, e.g., greet team members by name, apologize, agree and disagree, introduce new or different topics. The study reports high levels of postings that exceeded course requirements, but suggests further research with a larger sample size is needed to determine which factors caused the motivation behind this.