Asynchronous Forum as a Discussion Tool in a Preparatory Reading Course for First Year Distance Learners

  •  Maslawati Mohamad    
  •  Azura Omar    
  •  Ahmad Zamri Mansor    


This study involved distance learners who enrolled as part time students with the Allied Sciences Faculty, National University of Malaysia. Most of these students are adult learners who possess a Diploma in Health Sciences and are attached to various health institutions throughout Malaysia. These students had to take a preparatory reading course during their first year to facilitate reading health-related references which are written in English. In this course, the course designers assigned two assignments which the students needed to complete through the online forum discussion. The main aim of these assignments was to assist them in developing comprehension of the two units in the course materials which were in the form of hypermedia documents. Besides the given course materials, they were also encouraged to do further reading from the prescribed websites and other relevant sources related to the themes of the two units. Due to limited contact hours face-to-face, online forum is considered an important medium of communication particularly for distance learners who have little opportunity to attend face-to-face tutorials and discussions. Hence, this study was embarked on in order to find out the benefits of the online forum as a communication platform to enhance the students’ reading comprehension of health sciences materials. This study adopts the qualitative approach whereby distance learners were interviewed to collect data. They were also given a questionnaire to corroborate the data from the interviews. The online forum threaded discussions of a set of class of 22 students were also analyzed. The results of this study prove that online forums do enhance the students’ reading comprehension.

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