MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol.4, No.4, December 2008

Abstracts of Papers in This Issue

Revealing Online Learning Behaviors and Activity Patterns and Making Predictions with Data Mining Techniques in Online Teaching, Jui-Long Hung and Ke Zhang

This study was conducted with data mining (DM) techniques to analyze various patterns of online learning behaviors, and to make predictions on learning outcomes . Statistical models and machine learning DM techniques were conducted to analyze 17,934 server logs to investigate 98 undergraduate students’ learning behaviors in an online business course in Taiwan. The study scientifically identified students’ behavioral patterns and preferences in the online learning processes, differentiated active and passive learners, and found important parameters for performance prediction. The results also demonstrated how data mining techniques might be utilized to help improve online teaching and learning with suggestions for online instructors, instructional designers and courseware developers.

Keywords: Educational data mining, online learning, online teaching, online learning behavioral patterns, online learning activity patterns, online learning predictions, prediction model, clustering analysis, association analysis, decision tree analysis


Engineering Cultures: Online versus In Class, Rosamond Parkhurst, Barbara M. Moskal, Gary Lee Downey, Juan Lucena , Thomas Bigley , and Sharon Elberb

At many universities, online courses are being offered as an option for students. Yet, little research has been completed on the effectiveness of online courses as compared to in class versions. “Online” is defined here to be a course in which the majority of instructional and course materials are delivered via internet. At Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Colorado School of Mines a course titled, Engineering Cultures, has been offered both online and in class. Online appears to be an excellent method to provide broad access to educational material but is it as effective as the classroom versions of the same course? As part of this study, a multiple choice pretest and posttest were administered to a treatment and control group. The treatment group completed the online version of the course and the control group completed the classroom version of the course. Both groups also completed a survey at the end of the course. The results of the analysis were surprising: the treatment group displayed greater increases from pre to post test than did the control group.

Keywords: online instruction, web based learning, online teaching, global learning, college instruction, engineering cultures


Assessing and Comparing Interaction Dynamics, Student Learning, and Satisfaction within Web-based Online Learning Programs, Ali Sher

This study measures student learning, satisfaction, and interaction dynamics within Web-based online learning programs. The population of this study was students enrolled in multiple academic disciplines at an East Coast U.S. university . A Web-based research instrument was designed to assess students’ characteristics, their perceptions of learning, satisfaction, student-to-student interactions and student-to-instructor interactions. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a technique that is used to test the statistical significance of differences among the mean scores of two or more groups on one or more variables. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to see whether perceived learning, student satisfaction, student-student instructor interaction, and student-student interaction differed based on the discipline within these programs. N o statistically significant differences were found. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to see whether perceived learning differed based on the technology used within these programs. No statistically significant differences were found here either. Research findings, limitations of research, and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Keywords: Online learning, student-student interaction, student-faculty interaction, student satisfaction


Technology as a Management Tool in the Community College Classroom: Challenges and Benefits, Daniel P. Stewart

In this paper the challenges and benefits of utilizing technology as a tool in classroom management are examined from the perspectives of both students and educators. Special focus is given to community colleges and their unique student population. Further, the paper reflects on perceptions of these challenges commonly encountered during the introduction of computers in the classroom in the 1980s, and explores the progress, or lack thereof, in the succeeding twenty years in dealing with these issues. Finally, this paper discusses how technology can benefit both students and teachers in modern “traditional” classroom settings, often borrowing from ideas and techniques pioneered in online and hybrid courses.

Keywords: Technological fluency, workforce development, adult learners, non-traditional students, digital divide, technophobia, technological resistance, online source evaluation, learning styles


Teaching Pre-cursor Clinical Skills Using an Online Audio-visual Tool: An Evaluation Using Student Responses, Jane Coffee and Susan Hillier

The integration of multimedia and computer assisted learning in the teaching of functional anatomy has been reported to be as effective as the more traditional tutor demonstration instructional design. However, the use of this instructional design for teaching the psychomotor skills of surface anatomy palpation and muscle length testing has not been reported. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate the responses of first year physiotherapy students to the use of an on–line audio-visual (AV) / DVD aid. This new tool was used to replace more traditional in class tutor demonstration for teaching a section of surface anatomy palpation and muscle length testing, in a first year Biomechanics course. Students reported video previewing to be a helpful instructional tool however, there were some difficulties experienced with online accessibility. Students also requested more direction in their study habits to maximize the benefits of this changed instructional design. This study highlights the need to begin training student lifelong learning study habits in the first year.

Keywords: Multimedia, DVD, Surface anatomy, palpation, online, audio-visual


Comparison of Student and Instructor Perceptions of Best Practices in Online Technology Courses, David Batts

This study investigated the perception of stu dents and instructors in online technology courses relative to the use of seven principles that demonstrate good practices in undergraduate education. The principles were originally developed for face-to-face instruction, but are applicable in a variety of instructional delivery methods. Results show that on average, students perceived that two of the seven practices were utilized by instructors at a high level which was consistent with instructor emphasis. For the remaining five principles, students perceived these at a medium level, also consistent with instructor emphasis. The study also compared the means of the instructor to the students’ means in the same online class and demonstrated that their perception of the use of the seven principles were not significantly different. Implications of these findings are discussed and recommendations are provided for how instructors can utilize strategies to increase the level of perception of use of the principles that rated medium to low.

Keywords: Quality; Seven Principles; Distance Education; Instruction; Baccalaureate


The Impact of the Open Source Portfolio on Learning and Assessment, Darren Cambridge, Luke Fernandez, Susan Kahn, Judith Kirkpatrick, and Janice Smith

The Open Source Portfolio (OSP) software for eportfolio learning and assessment has seen widespread adoption over the last five years. This article surveys the current state of OSP development and use and shares results of research on its effectiveness, conducted through the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research. OSP is being used for personal representation, teaching and learning, and assessment and accreditation. Research at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Kapi’olani Community College shows that use of the OSP Matrix tool can affect learning and engagement when used to promote matrix thinking, the process of reflecting on work originally created in another context in relationship to the intersection of multiple dimensions of a shared conceptual framework. Data indicates that such thinking is linked to advanced reflective thinking, increased student engagement, and enhanced learning strategies. Research at George Mason University demonstrates that matrix thinking also can help institutions learn about their students’ practice of leadership, while Weber State University’s study suggests that OSP can create an environment for systematic assessment of general education if effectively integrated into day-to-day teaching and learning practices. The Syracuse College of Education successful accreditation using goal aware tools suggests one such means of integration.

Keywords: e-porfolios, assessment, reflection, open source, matrix thinking, student engagement, capstone, leadership, general education, learning strategies


The Emergence of a Blended Online Learning Environment, Michael Power

This paper is based on an ongoing research program examining the implementation of instructional design and technology in university teaching as well as in faculty migration from a distance education design model to an online learning design model. The purpose of this paper is to substantiate an emerging online learning trend termed blended online learning, based on a synthesis of existing research and new findings from a three-year, multi-case study. Blended online learning, as defined here, was borne out of an intensive, iterative cycle of rapid prototyping-based design research and is seen as a combination of both blended learning and online learning, i.e. the simultaneous and complimentary integration and implementation of an asynchronous-mode learning environment (i.e. a learning management system, or LMS) and a synchronous desktop conferencing environment (i.e. a virtual classroom). Previous research by the author defined the context, parameters and methodology of this study and identified specific design problems encountered by faculty when designing and developing courses for off-campus outreach. This paper takes a step back and observes how distance education as a field is losing impetus as online learning is gaining momentum.

Keywords : instructional design, design research, distance education, online learning, blended learning


Online Assignments and Interactive Classroom Sessions: A Potent Prescription for Ailing Success Rates in Calculus, Helena Dedic, Steven Rosenfield, and Ivan Ivanov

The goal of this study was to determine whether students’ achievement in Calculus courses could be improved using the online assessment system WeBWorK, with or without interactive classroom support. Three instructional designs (C1, C2 and C3) were compared, all using lecture format classes and standard content, but with differences in assignment delivery: C1, paper; C2, WeBWorK with unlimited tries; C3 differed from C2 only because 20% of class time was spent with students working on assignments, interacting with the teacher and each other. There were no differences in student achievement, as measured by independent coding of student protocols, or motivation between C1 and C2. C3 students outperformed other students and exhibited more effort. The self-efficacy of all students decreased pre- to post-instruction with the exception of women in C3 classes. Importantly, the C3 design has now been adopted by a majority of instructors at the research site.

Keywords: Post-secondary mathematics education, Web-based assignments, Student achievement, Motivation, Self-efficacy, Gender


Effective eLearning Design, Henry L. Steen

Organizations have a need for effective training. Training designers have to be able to design effective eLearning to meet those needs. This is difficult because designing successful eLearning is part art and part science, involving the use of learning and training theory and an understanding of the knowledge and/or skills to be taught. The design also has to be completed within the constraints involved in all phases of the training design and implementation. Further complicating the process is the diversity of equipment, tools, and techniques involved. A final complication is the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the design of eLearning. Each course is unique. However, there is a general process whereby the designer balances the elements involved. If the designer does everything correctly, there is a greatly improved chance that the result will be effective eLearning.

Keywords: Benefits; improved learning; business productivity; Formats; Types; artistry; Tools; Techniques; Process; Technologies; Pedagogy; Instructional Design


Scaffolding Discovery Learning Spaces, Shalin Hai-Jew

Discovery Learning spaces may be created in online learning environments to encourage learner-directed training and learning. Such “autodidaxy” learning tends to be autonomous and learner-directed. This chapter addresses the importance of learner empowerment through the building of learner orientation, decision supports, community supports, and new learning archival. This also advocates promotion of learner self-efficacy and decision-making. The Web-based design of online discovery spaces needs to be aligned in pro-learning ways based on relevant theory, research and in-field applied practices.

Keywords: autodidaxy, discovery learning, independent learning, motivational interference, self-directed learning, self-regulated learning, self-efficacy


Cadets' Expectation of Their Learning Environment at the National Defence University of Malaysia , Jowati Binti Juhary

The National Defence University of Malaysia is the youngest public university in Malaysia and it is at a phase of looking for a right combination of teaching and learning strategies for the students. This paper attempts to benchmark the best practice from other military learning institutions that can be adapted at the NDUM. Data are gathered from surveys and semi-structured interviews at the NDUM and the first military academy in the U.S., the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. The results from data collection do not conform to the original hypothesis. In practice, the best learning environment for military students uses, in fact, a combination of various pedagogical approaches.  

Keywords: The Thayer System, Didactic Teaching, Authoritarianism, Active Learning, Military Learning Environment.


Discipline-Specific Library Instruction for Millennial Students, Daniel S. Dotson and Karen R. Diaz

The Ohio State University Libraries offers an introduction to library research to students in survey courses that introduce them to the university. Through an online assignment called Make the Leap, students expand their skills in finding web sites, books, and journal articles via the use of a web search engine, the library catalog, and a research database. In 2006, the assignment was retooled to target engineering students using topics and tools relevant to engineering and computer science students. This article details the pedagogies and strategies of both versions of the assignment and shows evidence for student and instructor preference toward the subject-specific version. Possible future directions for the Make the Leap program, including scaffolding and other subject-specific versions, are given.

Keywords: undergraduates, engineering, computer science, generation Y, millennials, course management system, information literacy, library skills


Engagement in Online Collaborative Learning: A Case Study Using a Web 2.0 Tool, Pao-Nan Chou and Ho-Huan Chen

In this study, the author employed a Web 2.0 tool to promote student online collaborative learning. Fifty-five college students majoring in information technology and management participated in the two-week study, conducted in a programming language course. Qualitative research methodology was utilized to collect data. The results show that the technological tool motivated students to engage in collaborative learning, and its use supports student learning.

Keywords: Wiki teaching and learning, online social interaction, programming language learning, technology integration in classroom, scaffolding tool


An Online Degree Program Course Template Development Process, Brian Newberry

This article describes the use of an instructional design process to develop and test a template for creating and presenting learning materials for an online degree program. Student focus groups, instructor interviews, and analysis of existing teaching materials provided information about the need for portability, flexibility, instructor autonomy and consideration for the different types of interactions, student-content, student-instructor, and student-student in online classes. Rapid prototyping of materials was used to test the ability of the template to facilitate development as well as structure student interactions in online classes. The instructional design process resulted in a superior product and increases confidence about the quality of the results. The use of templates facilitates production of online materials, permits the development of forms-based production systems and ultimately a database supported course production system.

Keywords: Online Class, Online Degree, Instructional Design, Rapid Prototyping, Portability of Materials


Facebook © Goes to College: Using Social Networking Tools to Support Students Undertaking Teaching Practicum, Rebecca English and Jennifer Duncan-Howell

The impact of Web 2.0 and social networking tools on education has been much commented on. Teachers need to consider how to meet the needs of their students utilising Web 2.0 and other social networking tools. However, tertiary institutions are beginning to recognise that the currently enrolled undergraduate student body is also increasingly Web 2.0 proficient. The focus of undergraduate education degrees has primarily been the use of Web 2.0 tools to teach future school students. However, institutions are now realising that these same tools can be used to create pedagogically sound learning environments for pre-service teachers. This paper will explore the use of social networking tools, such as Facebook©, to support students undertaking teaching practicum. It will introduce a project that involved a cohort of business education students currently enrolled in education degrees at Queensland University of Technology. These students were habitual users of Facebook ©, and a group page was created to examine their experiences and behaviours during their teaching practicum placements. This paper will suggest how the digital behaviours and habits of students enrolled in this course may be used in developing supportive tools that can be harnessed during practicum periods.

Keywords : Social Networking, Web 2.0, pre-service teacher education, online communities


Effective Online Teacher Preparation: Lessons Learned,  Cindy Ann Dell, Sharon F. Hobbs, and Kenneth Miller

States with large rural populations must find new ways to prepare and retain highly qualified teachers who want to teach in rural schools. Research on rural education indicates that pre-service teachers who already have ties to rural communities are more likely to want to teach in rural schools. Online teacher preparation programs are one way to meet the need for highly qualified rural teachers. This paper identifies obstacles one teacher preparation program encountered in developing such a program and suggestions for solutions. Successful online teacher preparation programs must address issues of student isolation, the difficulty of committing resources and staffing to ongoing online courses, a campus infrastructure that may lack flexibility for meeting online student needs, and the challenge in providing students with diverse field experiences in their rural communities.

Keywords : Online Program Design, Cohorts, Teacher Preparation, Rural Access, Highly Qualified Teachers.


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Last Modified : 2008/12/15