In this work, the phenomenon of student enthusiasm was explored in a population of 47 students of Touro Graduate School of Education who took the author's online psychology course. The purpose of the study was to find how students-enthusiasts differ from classmates in their communication style(s) reflected in group discussions on the Discussion Board (DB). The research methodology included graphical and statistical analysis of students’ discussions. It was found that, although the enthusiasts constituted a small part (6%) of the investigated population, their contribution to the virtual learning environment was the greatest – they were catalyzers of the educational process. Students-enthusiasts a) consolidated their group, transforming it from a disorganized mass without common interests to a team capable of collaboration; b) stimulated discussions by helping their classmates to develop "a sense of community"; c) unlike others, also competent as learners and computer users, the enthusiasts shared information with their less knowledgeable classmates concerning various aspects of the online study. Students-enthusiasts served as a model and support for their fellow learners and the instructor. The author concludes that such a contribution must be appreciated and maximally used in the virtual classroom (VC) with its specifics and communicational limitations.
Toom, A. (2015). Students-enthusiasts in online classes: Their contribution to the educational process. IAFOR Journal of Education, 3(2), 126-140.