Stress and Discussion Boards


This week, I would like to share a recent (July 2019) article, which I was fortunate to work with UCSD colleagues. The paper, "Always on Stress: The Emotive Impact of Anytime, Anywhere Discussion Boards" is by Bardolph, Porter, Hadjipieris and Hargis. I was approached by a co-author inquiring about research on discussion boards. This conversation led to many ideas, and one that became particular important was student disposition.

The two Research Questions were:

  1. What is the emotional impact of the Piazza discussion board on students?

  2. Do tools such as Piazza increase stress and therefore decrease learning?

The participants for this study were 167 computer science students in a large, public research-intensive university in southern California. Direct and indirect measures were gathered, which included a stress inventory; small group perception survey; and student posts in Piazza. The team hypothesized that the "near-constant stream of information could pressure students to keep up with new content, which could potentially lead to stress and confusion when posts may be incorrect and/or provide misconceptions. The aim was to clarify the impact on students of the “always on” aspects of discussion forums."

Parameters examined included Stress Appraisal Theory (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984); Fear of Missing Out (Baker, Krieger, & LeRoy, 2016); Disequilibrium (Piaget (1974); Coping responses (Folkman, 2013); Self-directed/Self-efficacy (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000); and Metacognition (Chick, Karis, & Kernahan, 2009).

Data was gathered about how students use Piazza; their specific experiences; and whether using Piazza leads to stress or confusion. We found that although the content of the posts does not indicate stress, students report pressure, stress and anxiety.

Bardolph, M., Porter, G., & Hargis, J. (2019). Always on stress: The emotive impact of anytime, anywhere discussion boards. Transformative Dialogues, 12(2).

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