MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol. 9, No. 4, December 2013

Abstracts of Papers in This Issue

A Longitudinal Comparison of Course Delivery Modes of an Introductory Information Systems Course and the Subsequent Information Systems Course 
Kathleen Burns, Mary "Mimi" Duncan, Donald C. Sweeney II, Jeremy W. North, and William A. Ellegood

This paper presents a robust longitudinal comparison of student learning in face-to-face (F2F), online, and hybrid delivery methods of a two-course sequence in information systems, required of all business majors, at a Midwestern land grant university. Student learning was evaluated by delivery method in the introductory first class of the sequence, using an ordered probit regression model of letter grade earned controlling for the effects of other possible explanatory variables. Cumulative grade point average was found to be a consistent determinant in student success, and students were found to have significantly better learning outcomes, as expressed through course grades, in the F2F delivery mode for the introductory class. Student grades were then evaluated in the next, more advanced information systems course, using a second ordered probit regression model. The results indicated that mode of delivery, online or F2F, for the more advanced course had no significant impact on student grades for that course, but students who had enrolled in the online and hybrid delivery modes in the first course of the sequence performed significantly better, as measured by course grade, in the more advanced course regardless of delivery mode

delivery methods, information systems education, business education


Students' Perceptions of Social Presence: Rhetorical and Relational Goals Across Three Mediated Instructional Designs
Brandi N. Frisby, Anthony M. Limperos, Rachael A. Record, Edward P. Downs, and Sarah E. Kercsmar

The explosion in the number of students taking online courses warrants a deeper understanding of instructor strategies that meet rhetorical and relational goals. Guided by social presence theory and rhetorical and relational goals theory, 329 participants were randomly assigned into one of three manipulated social presence online learning conditions to watch a short lecture. The student perceptions of social presence, instructor–student rapport, and perceptions of the instructor competence were examined as influential factors in learning (i.e., perceived and actual recall). Generally, students' rhetorical and relational goals were more likely to be met in online courses that included higher levels of social presence via auditory and text or auditory, text, and visual components when compared to a text-only format. Further, students demonstrated better quiz performance in conditions with higher social presence. However, only instructor competence, and not social presence or instructor rapport, predicted students' quiz performance.

Keywords: social presence, rhetorical and relational goals, modality, competence, rapport


Perceptions of Gender-Based Barriers for Men in an Online Nursing Completion Program Compared to Traditional On-Campus Nursing Programs
John R. Kirk, Chad E. O’Lynn, and Michael K. Ponton

This paper reports on a mixed-method study that compared the perceptions of gender-based barriers experienced by 49 men who were enrolled in an online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree completion program with those they experienced in their previous traditional on-campus nursing programs. The subjects responded to an online adaptation of O'Lynn's Inventory of Male Friendliness in Nursing Programs and provided narrative comments. There was no significant difference in total scores between the two programs, though significant differences were found for individual survey items between the two programs. Importantly, the men rated the online program significantly more accepting of them as men than their traditional on-campus programs. Narrative comments clarified the scores the men provided. This study contributes to the scholarship on gender and online learning by reporting the experiences of men in an online nursing program.

Keywords: RN to BSN, nursing education, gender barriers, diversity, men, male friendliness, Inventory of Male Friendliness in Nursing Programs (IMFNP)


Listening to the Learner: Graduate Teacher Education Students' Preferences for Asynchronous Content Delivery
Douglas W. Smith

The research reported in this paper seeks to contribute to refinement of the definition of "best instructional practice" as it relates to delivery of asynchronous online course content to teacher education graduate students by answering the question, "What do teacher education graduate students perceive to be the best online delivery methods and timing for maximally effective learning of asynchronous content?" A convenience sample of 83 graduate students in different sections of a fully online, asynchronous graduate course was surveyed with 80 complete responses (96.4% response rate). Five different methods of asynchronous instructional content delivery were provided throughout the courses. Respondents indicated which methods most effectively facilitated their learning, the ideal length of time each method should last in a single sitting, and rationales for their responses. Survey findings suggest that even though the distance between instructor and student may be greater in the online learning environment, respondents highly value focused instructor interpretation of content as a crucial aspect of any delivery method. Additional implications to construction and delivery of asynchronous online content are presented.

Keywords: online pedagogy, graduate teacher education, asynchronous course delivery, instructional strategies, learner perspectives


Teaching Social Studies Online: An Exemplar for Examining the Broader Implications of Online Methods Courses in Teacher Education
Christina M. Tschida and Brian Sevier

The authors use experiences with an elementary social studies methods course to create dialogic conversations about the issues and challenges faced as they taught the class for the first time in an online format. In dialogues, the authors raise questions about the impact of online methods on classroom community, the significance of modeling practices in teacher education, and the status of social studies in teacher education. These questions are pertinent to and compelling for larger discussions of online delivery across the content spectrum. Indeed, the authors contend that the range of issues surrounding online social studies methods and this content area's particular vulnerabilities make the course an appropriate and convincing case study for the future of all methods courses, particularly within the context of the current accountability-obsessed educational setting.

Keywords: online learning, teacher education, methods courses, sense of community, autoethnography, self-study


Foreign Language Learners' Use and Perception of Online Dictionaries: A Survey Study
Li Jin and Elizabeth Deifell

The importance of dictionaries in language learning is indisputable. The emergence of online dictionaries has noticeably influenced the way students learn a foreign language (FL). This study examines FL learners' use and perception of bilingual online dictionaries through an analysis of over 250 responses to a web-based survey from learners enrolled in postsecondary language courses in the United States. The most popular online dictionaries among eight languages are presented along with self-reported data regarding look-up behaviors while reading, writing, listening, and speaking the target language. The results suggest that online dictionaries are most often consulted when learners are creating and/or deciphering digitally mediated written texts. Although most FL learners consider online dictionaries to be an essential part of their language learning, they report that not all are reliable. They also report the disparity of quality in online dictionaries across languages. As a result, learners often use multiple online dictionaries and other digital resources for multiple purposes. Based on the findings, pedagogical suggestions are provided to help educators guide FL learners' use of online dictionaries and other digital resources such as online translators.

Keywords: computer-assisted language learning (CALL), foreign language learning, online dictionaries, online translators, Google, Google Translate, digital resources


It Can Be Taught: Explorations into Teaching the Foundations for Multicultural Effectiveness
Randall E. Osborne, Paul Kriese, and John M. Davis

Connections are drawn between the development of intercultural sensitivity, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, and multicultural effectiveness. A case is made that fostering particular critical thinking skills in courses enhances interpersonal skills, and that enhanced interpersonal skills facilitate movement along Bennett's proposed continuum of development of intercultural sensitivity. As a result of these changes, students should become more multiculturally effective. Discussion centers on how to integrate these qualities (e.g., critical thinking, intercultural sensitivity, and interpersonal skills) and facilitate them in courses (especially online courses). A call for research on how to test these assumptions with experiences beyond the classroom is introduced.

Keywords: intercultural sensitivity, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, multicultural effectiveness, experiential learning


Changing the Conversation: Facebook as a Venue for Online Class Discussion in Higher Education
Mike Kent

In this paper, the author reports on a study of the online activity of students in a final-year unit in the Internet Communications course at Curtin University. Student activity was recorded in the discussion forums of the Blackboard learning management system for three instances of the same unit, in 2011 and 2012. Then, in the latter two of these instances, an additional discussion forum was added, on Facebook, and activity was also recorded. Students’ posts were measured for content, length, and which week of the study period they were posted
online. The study found the addition of the Facebook forum resulted in a significantly higher level of student activity, in real terms and across the 13 weeks of the unit. The addition of the Facebook forum did not significantly affect the level of student participation in the Blackboard forum. The use of the Facebook forum also changed the type of interactions by students, with the learners being more involved in discussions about course administration and
assignments. Most notably, both students and staff began posting additional links to material that supported learning in the unit, but were not set as part of the unit’s formal readings.

Keywords: student engagement, online discussion forums, online student activity, Blackboard, Facebook, online learning, online teaching


Integrating Social Media in an Online Graduate Youth Development Course
Kimberly Allen and Dede Nelson

Youth today are using web-based technologies and social media at record rates. A reported 95% of teens use the Internet and most with "always on" connections that allow them access to web-based technologies at any point in their day. How teens use technology is ever changing, but what is steadfast is the need for adults to be involved
in all facets of youths' lives, including the web. There is also a need for professionals who work with youth and their families to understand and utilize technology. This case study discusses the theoretical underpinnings, process, and results of an online course for youth development professionals, and specifically describes a web-based
instructional activity involving the use of social media. Results show that although few students entered with strong technology skills, they left with new abilities and strong attitudes about the importance of using social media in their professional roles.

Keywords: social media, youth development, education, online courses


Incorporating the Experiential Learning Cycle into Online Classes
Undrahbuyan Baasanjav

Based on a case study built upon an introductory digital media class in a large urban school, this case study explores the relationship between ee-learning, a combination of experiential and e-learning, and technological integration in online higher education classes. By incorporating the experiential learning theory proposed by Kolb (1984), which elaborates upon John Dewey's notion of continuity of experience and interaction, the author contributes to the understanding of the roles of direct media experiences in online learning environments and proposes a useful model for teachers designing online technology courses. The ee-learning theory helps to address the wide variation of technological skills among students that instructors of online classes encounter.

Keywords: ee-learning, digital media use, online education, experiential learning cycle, Kolb


Instructional Design Interventions for Supporting Self-Regulated Learning: Enhancing Academic Outcomes in Postsecondary E-Learning Environments
Frances A. Rowe and Jennifer A. Rafferty

Theories and models about self-regulated learning are important to educators attempting to understand why some learners succeed and others have difficulty in academic settings. Understanding self-regulation in e-learning environments is critical because there is much agreement in the literature that e-learning requires a higher degree of self-regulation than face-to-face learning. Furthermore, empirical studies of the effects of self-regulated learning intervention on learning outcomes of students in elearning environments indicate that support for self-regulated learning fosters significantly higher academic outcomes. In this paper, the authors will focus on: (1) what educators should know about the different types of self-regulated learning interventions that have been studied; and (2) how educators might apply self-regulated learning interventions to the design of e-learning environments in order to support self-regulated learning processes.

Keywords: social cognitive theory, metacognition, cognition, motivation, learning outcomes, academic achievement, self-regulation, constructivism, higher education, online learning, virtual classroom, blended learning, distance learning


Digital Critical Dialogue: A Process for Implementing Transformative Discussion Practices within Online Courses in Higher Education
Jason T. Hilton

This article seeks to suggest a method for those who teach online courses to move beyond passive instructional techniques so as to foster critical dialogue that actively engages learners in an educative process meant to uncover hidden socio-historical dynamics and inspire transformative possibilities in a digitally connected future. The article provides theoretical background for the use of critical dialogue in online contexts, building on critical digital literacies as an analytic model for engagement with digital texts. This is followed by implementation suggestions for creating, encouraging, and determining signs of successful implementation of critical dialogue within online course contexts in higher education.

Keywords: critical pedagogy, critical dialogue, critical literacy, online education, higher education, online identity, virtual learning space


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