Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan


In the Post RN BScN curriculum, one of the courses “Professional Development and Leadership (PDLM)” was offered as blended mode for the first time. In order to explore the students’ interactions and Cognitive Engagement (CE) in Online Discussion Forums (ODFs), the research team conducted a retrospective study for the first time at a private nursing institution of Karachi-Pakistan. The study was conducted by utilizing the retrospective qualitative paradigm of discourse analysis to understand student’s CE in ODFs. The study has addressed the following one main and three subsidiary research questions: How do threaded discussions (in the part of online forums) enable or hinder the student’s level of cognitive engagement in a blended learning course (PDLM course)? All the course enrollees were invited to participate in the study; 24 of 81 students provided the written consent to participate in the study. The participants of the research study were both males and females; of which males were (20.8%) whereas females were (79.2%). However, only (92.3%) of the participants’ completed the Online Monkey Survey tool for demographic details. The data was collected after the university’s ethical review committee’s clearance. The scripts of ODFs from two online modules (named as Module A & B) were used for this study, which were triangulated through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). The researcher used discourse analysis to explore the interrelations between words and the context in which the words are used. This assisted in establishing the links to determine the patterns of interaction and the levels of CE of the learners. Levels and categories of CE defined by Zhu (2006) were used as a guideline for discourse analysis of the discussion forums of two modules. Categories were assigned various levels to understand the specific kinds of interactions as explained within the selected analytical framework. The categories and levels include question type I and II, statements type I-VI, reflection type I and II, mentoring and scaffolding. It is observed from the results that majority of the participants used statements type I which is responding to the direct questions, whereas, seeking clarifications (either question type I or II) was not much observed. Mentoring and Scaffolding are higher levels of CE, however, only less number of responses observed in both the modules A and B. Moreover, study participants reported high level of engagement with the positive role of faculty facilitation and felt more comfortable in participating through a virtual learning environment. It was recommended to set netiquettes, to have sound training to those learners whose ICT skills need improvement and to consider in-depth key informant interviews with each research participant soon after they posted a comment on ODF, will bring more insight in understanding CE.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Education and Training Studies