The Use of Asynchronous Forum to Enhance Reading Comprehension of Distance Learners

  •  Maslawati Mohamad    
  •  Supyan Hussin    
  •  Zaini Amir    
  •  Azizah Yaacob    
  •  Saadiah Kummin    
  •  Azizah Zahidi    


The Internet is widely available in Malaysia and due to improved bandwidth, and students now spend considerable time reading online materials (hypermedia documents) in order to complete their assignments. This is especially the case for distance learners who have little opportunity to attend face-to-face tutorials and rely instead on course materials that are uploaded to the institution’s website. This case study explored the extent to which an asynchronous forum enhances the reading comprehension of distance learners specific to Life Sciences hypermedia documents. As part of their assignments, students discussed two questions via the online forum which were designed with the intent of assisting them in developing fuller comprehension of two course units. Semi-structured interviews, observations and document analysis (online forum discussion threads) were employed to assess effects. It was found that feedback through discussion via an asynchronous forum enhanced levels of comprehension for the students involved. It was also found that an asynchronous forum provides ample time for students to read extensively and subsequently discuss subject materials when they are ready to do so, and in a convenient manner. It was also found that students obtained and shared information from a myriad of sources which promoted intensive and extensive reading. It is believed that this study provides insights that will assist course designers as well as teachers in increasing student reading comprehension through asynchronous forum, in terms of the needs, difficulties and requirements of distance learners.

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