MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol.7, No.2, June 2011

Abstracts of Papers in This Issue

The Impact of an Honor Code on Cheating in Online Courses
Frank M. LoSchiavo and Mark A. Shatz

Three studies were conducted to assess the effect of an honor code on self-reported cheating during online quizzes in an Introductory Psychology course. In Study 1 (N = 40), the authors found that 72.5% of students reported cheating on at least one of the 14 quizzes (M = 4.15), typically by consulting the textbook or the online course materials. In Study 2 (N = 84), students were randomly assigned to a fully asynchronous online section in which students were required to digitally sign an honor code or to a section without such a requirement.Contrary to expectations, no significant difference in self-reported cheating emerged between students who signed the honor code (61.5%) and students who did not sign the code (50%). In Study 3 (N = 165), the authors tested students in blended sections and found that students who signed an honor code were about 30% less likely to report cheating (57.6%) than those who did not sign (81.8%). The authors discuss the implications for online instruction and suggest that the immediacy (i.e., perceived social distance) of the instructor is one key factor that influences compliance with honor codes in online courses.

Keywords : cheating, codes of ethics, distance education, higher education, web-based instruction


Development of an Interactive Online Module to Prepare Students for Learning to Measure Joint Range of Motion
Nicola Massy-Westropp, Susan Gilbert Hunt, Shylie Mackintosh, and Michael Lewis

Within the University of South Australia, human anatomy is taught in many allied health undergraduate programs. One aspect of the course is developing student ability to measure joint range of motion (ROM) using a protractor like device called a goniometer. This is an important quantitative assessment, used frequently in the clinical setting. However, teaching staff struggle to provide individual feedback to each student or teach the theory and skill at a pace that suits each student. Anatomy teaching staff at the university developed and trialled an online joint ROM pre-class preparation module to allow students to learn the theory behind the skill, and then to see the assessment in class. The interactive module used brief text and images, followed by a self test. Students were then invited to use a virtual goniometer with a movie, their efforts accompanied by corrective feedback. Pre and post module questionnaires evaluating student satisfaction, level of knowledge and confidence were conducted and results were compared and analysed through content analysis and frequency of response. Overall results demonstrated voluntary student engagement and enjoyment, increased student understanding on joint ROM, and appreciation of the immediate feedback provided. The module has the potential to be embedded into the other courses or as revision before clinical placements.

Keywords: interactive tutorial; range of motion; goniometry


Is E-Learning for Everyone? An Internal-External Framework of E-Learning Initiatives
Pingying Zhang and Lakshmi Goel

Higher educational institutions are increasingly using electronic platforms as teaching environments. There is a gap in research that investigates individual-level factors that contribute to, and hamper, e-learning initiatives. A framework called the Internal-External Model is proposed in an effort to explain individual e-learning success. This framework is derived from the strategic management technique of identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). The framework is tested through data collected at a large southern university in the US, and the findings reported. Finally, implications for research and practice are presented. This paper makes two contributions. First, prior research on e-learning success is synthesized by identifying relevant empirical literature. In doing so, inconsistencies in empirical findings of prior research in e-learning success are highlighted. Second, the study offers a theoretical framework that may account for these inconsistencies by specifying the simultaneous role played by both internal and external factors. Results support a model where a favorable external environment for e-learning together with strong internal drives towards e-learning would in general lead to higher e-learning outcomes.

 Keywords: E-learning outcomes, SWOT analysis, E-learning intentions, E-learning satisfaction.


Prior E-learning Experience and Perceived Learning Outcomes in an Undergraduate E-learning Course
Matti Haverila

This paper reports the findings of research into the effect of E-learning experience on students’ perceived learning outcomes. The research examines perceived learning outcomes in terms of effectiveness, amount and productivity of learning in an E-learning context. The participants were undergraduate course students at Tamk University of Applied Sciences in Tampere, Finland. The results were interpreted using a quantitative and exploratory research approach. The results suggest that a priori E-learning experience significantly correlates with perceived learning outcomes. This occurs only in a direct fashion and, surprisingly, not through any intermediary process variables in contrast to the findings in the learning model developed by Biggs and Moore. Specific recommendations for practitioners are also provided, and the implications for educators are discussed. Finally suggestions for further research on E-learning are provided.

Keywords: E-learning experience, learning model, learning outcomes


Classroom Community and Student Engagement in Online Courses
Suzanne Young and
Mary Alice Bruce

The purpose of this study was to examine correlates of both online classroom community and student engagement in online learning, as well as to compare community and engagement across disciplines in higher education. Participants (n=1,410) in online courses across five colleges and in both graduate and undergraduate courses were asked to complete an online survey. The survey consisted of 23 items measuring community and engagement as well as an additional six demographic items. Factor analysis yielded the following three factors accounting for approximately 58% of the total variance: classroom community with instructors (eight items), classroom community with classmates (eight items), and engagement in learning (seven items).

Discipline differences were found when examining the three factors across the colleges. Students taking courses in the College of Education reported significantly stronger feelings of community with instructors and classmates compared to all other colleges; students taking courses in the College of Health Sciences reported significantly stronger feelings of community with classmates compared to students in Business and Arts and Sciences courses. Also, students in Education and Health Science courses reported significantly stronger engagement compared to students in Arts and Sciences courses.

Keywords: higher education, online teaching and learning, instructor community, student community, factor analysis, ANOVA


Non-Native English Speakers’ Multiliteracy Learning in Beyond-Game Culture: A Sociocultural Study
Dongwan Ryu

The popularity of video games carries implications in game players’ first (L1) and second language (L2) literacy. Based on the sociocultural theory and the New London Group’s multiliteracies, non-native English speakers’ asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC) in beyond-game culture was analyzed to identify their traditional and new literacy learning moments. Discourse analysis of their CMC interactions presented multimodal, multilingual, multicultural as well as traditional literacy learning from participation in beyond-game affinity space, which had educational implications for L1 and L2 literacy learning. Teachers as well as researchers need to consider how to bridge these emerging literacy practices to an existing literacy curriculum.

Keywords: gaming,game play, beyond-game culture, affinity space, participatory culture, multiliteracies, computer-mediated communication


Development and Implementation of a “Blended” Teaching Course Environment
Jacqueline A. Gilbert and Ricardo Flores-Zambada

Traditional classroom delivery has experienced a complete overhaul with the advent of Web 2.0 techniques for delivering course material. The Socratic method of teaching can now be effectively accomplished in an online discussion forum, a synchronous chat session, virtual environments, or in a wiki format. All of these innovative technologies are part of an instructor’s teaching toolkit, and his or her arsenal for transforming course delivery. In this manuscript, the development and implementation of a “blended teaching” course is described. Blended teaching is an attempt to coalesce all of the best elements of online and on-ground instruction into a “super-hybrid” of sorts, one that delivers a rich skill set and a valuable educational experience to students.

Keywords: Hybrid, online course, Web 2.0, Second Life ®, Blended


Online Learning for Female Golf Professionals: A Sport Association Learning Intervention
Jill Fjelstul and Dana V. Tesone

This paper provides an expanded report concerning a Ladies Professional Golf Association’s (LPGA) online education initiative to determine its impact on pass rate and academic performance for their highest level of certification. The article outlines the LPGA’s certification structure and continuing education opportunities, previous research involving online learning for organizations, and the LPGA’s online review session. Findings identify the study population’s general demographics, their background experience in online education, and the pass rate percentages for test takers. Conclusions, recommendations, and strategies are offered for future LPGA online training initiatives supporting both LPGA and non-LPGA members.

Keywords: online learning, distance education, sport educational training, professional development, learning theory, constructivist learning theories


Preparing Future Foreign Language Faculty to Teach Online: A Case Study
Edwige Simon

Online learning has become a critical element of the U.S higher educational landscape. Given its growth, it is likely that both current and future faculty will be engaged in some form of online learning at some point in their career. Although teaching online is an increasingly common occurrence for faculty in higher education, the transition from the physical to the virtual classroom is a challenging experience for which many faculty are unprepared. Adequate preparation to teach online is particularly important, as online learning is especially unforgiving of pedagogical shortcomings. This paper describes a case study conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in which five graduate teaching assistants (TAs) enrolled in a graduate course that explored the theory and practice of online foreign language course design were followed. As a capstone project, TAs designed and developed a three-week non-credit online course for their language of expertise, which they taught the following summer. One major finding of this study is the importance of addressing faculty perceptions about online learning when preparing them to teach online and suggests that one way to address perception issues is to provide future faculty with a chance to experience online teaching for themselves in non-threatening conditions.

Keywords : Online learning, teacher training, higher education, teacher perceptions


(Dis)Embodied Difference in the Online Class: Vulnerability, Visibility, and Social Justice
Alexa Dare

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate critically the design and delivery of online course which address issues of race, culture, difference, or globalization. I use critical insights about how race functions in the online classroom to provide strategies for incorporating social justice into online curriculum in communication studies. I begin by summarizing key insights into the two general pedagogical issues of interest to this paper: critical intercultural communication studies and online course delivery. The first part of this essay addresses the advantages and possibilities associated with online delivery of such courses as intercultural communication. The second part teases out some of my misgivings concerning the viability and usefulness of online courses concerning communication and difference. Finally, I conclude by offering some strategies for designing antiracist and socially just classes in the online environment.

Keywords: Critical Pedagogy; Race online; Intercultural communication; Antiracist pedagogy; Global justice


Online Education: Promise and Problems
Theresa Capra

Online education has experienced dramatic expansion and growth. Institutions of higher learning continue to increase online course offerings in an effort to satisfy student demand. Although this growth is impressive, it does not occur without consequences. Higher education is struggling with an increase of student withdrawal and failure rates in online courses. This article explores this phenomenon with a review of current literature and research on the topic—with particular attention paid to the community college environment. Additionally, recommendations for practitioners, and for future research, are discussed.

Keywords: distance learning, virtual learning, Internet courses, community college students, two year schools, achievement, motivation, withdrawal, and retention.


A System for Integrating Online Multimedia into College Curriculum
Michael V. Miller

This article argues for the extensive employment of multimedia in college courses, and also suggests that instructors jointly involve their students in the process of making such resources. To foster greater engagement, a way of thinking about multimedia within the context of a coherent online system is introduced. The article identifies the key components of this system (i.e., distribution, location, collection, conceptualization, and production), the precise ways in which various online services and tools fit into each element, and how facility can be developed in working with digital learning content across the system.

Keywords : video, graphics, slideshows, media, cloud, RSS, bookmarking, information


Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions: A Win-Win Approach for Students and Instructors
Zvi Goldman

The challenge addressed in this article is how to achieve a win-win balance between quality and workload for students and instructors participating in asynchronous online discussions. A Discussion Guideline document including minimum requirements and best practices was developed to address this need. The approach covers three phases: design and development, setting up expectations, and launch and management. The goals of the approach, based on a commitment shared by all full time and adjunct faculty, are high quality of education as well as retention of both students and qualified instructors.

Key Words: Adult Online Education, Asynchronous Discussion, Course Workload, Best Practices


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