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How can discussion forum questions be effective in online MBA courses?

Kenneth David Strang (APPC Market Research & State University of New York, New York, New York, USA and The University of Technology & Telstra Learning‐in‐Business, Sydney, Australia)

Campus-Wide Information Systems

ISSN: 1065-0741

Article publication date: 29 March 2011




A quasi‐experiment compared two instructional approaches for an existing MBA online business strategy course at an accredited university to answer the question: how can discussion questions become more effective in online MBA courses? The treatment was an instructional approach that integrated Socratic questioning and conversation theory in a discussion forum. This paper aims to document the research.


Correlation and ANOVA were utilized to test the hypothesis that more online experiential knowledge interactions would increase grade. Quasi‐experimental controls included prior ability and demographic factors (gender, age, ethnic race). The test group used Socratic questions and conversation theory while the control group used the traditional peer interaction. A statistically significant ANOVA model was created, using teaching method as a factor, to measure effect on grade.


The online interactions of the test group were higher and so was the mean grade. The MANCOVA model was able to pinpoint why. Prior ability was ruled out as a moderating factor.

Research limitations/implications

The implications were cited as an increasing need to use high quality instructional methods for online courses, which requires student interaction. Experienced faculty are difficult (and expensive) to hire, and thus this represents an important requirement to identify for faculty development and selection during recruiting. The teaching method could work with other online e‐learning courses disciplines.


A solid scientific methodology was applied using advanced statistical techniques yet the explanations are very basic and clear. Socratic questioning and conversation theory were integrated as an instructional strategy to improve online MBA course interactions and grades.



Strang, K.D. (2011), "How can discussion forum questions be effective in online MBA courses?", Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 80-92.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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