Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Patrick Lowenthal, Ph.D.


Lida Uribe-Florez, Ph.D.


Yu-Hui Ching, Ph.D.


Online learning is growing. As such, institutions want to grow programs, while ensuring quality. Part of ensuring quality in online courses is ensuring that there is regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between students and instructors. Discussion boards are often used in online courses as a way to promote social exchange, interaction, and the discussion of course concepts. Therefore, discussion board activity can provide a glimpse into the RSI that occur between students and instructors. Until recently, data from learning management systems was difficult to access and analyze. However, advances in technology and an increased interest in learning analytics provides researchers and institutions with billions of data points about student and instructor activity within a learning management system (LMS). This study used LMS data to explore the frequency of interaction between instructors and students in discussion boards in online courses at one institution. 415 courses were selected for the study, spanning two semesters. Results from the study found that the average number of posts by an instructor was 32.9. The average instructor interaction was 1.49 instructor posts per student. 23% of courses had no instructor posts. Student posts averaged 470 per course and the average posts per student was 19.9. Based on the discussion board activity, the most discussion interaction occurred during the first two weeks of the semester. Results suggested that there is no relationship between student satisfaction and the number of total posts in a course.