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Assessing Teaching and Students’ Meaningful Learning Processes in an E-Learning Course June 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 2:56 am
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E-learning provides learners the flexibility and convenience to either take courses or to complete their degree.  As programs continue to expand, instruction methods need to be able to meet growing needs of the diverse population of learners.  Hakkarainen, Saarelainen and Ruokamo conducted an assessment on the students’ perspective on how a digital video-supported, case-based teaching approach supported studetns’ meaningful learning.  The case-based teaching is inspired by Dewey’s ideas. 

 

The learning materials used included scientific articles, a book, web pages related to the cases, PowerPoint slides and a video.  The video added a valuable approach to the learning.  Students had to analyze real-life cases through a video simulating a social situation.  The purpose of the video was engage students to discuss the case.  Their Teaching and Meaningful Learning Model (TML Model) presented a design that showed connection between Teaching and Meaningful Learning. 

 

Teaching function included:

  • Design and organization of the learning environment for students’ meaningful learning
  • Support and guidance for students’ meaningful learning

 

Meaningful Learning was divided into two parts – process characteristics and expected outcomes. 

 

Process Characteristics: 

  • Active
  • Self-directed
  • Constructive
  • Individual
  • Collaborative
  • Co-operational
  • Conversational
  • Contextual
  • Emotionally involving
  • Goal-oriented
  • Reflective
  • Abstract
  • Multiple perspectives-oriented
  • Critical
  • Experiential
  • Multi-representational
  • Creative

 

 

Expected outcomes

  • Domain-specific knowledge and skills
  • Transferable, generic knowledge and skills
    • Information literacy
    • Metacognition
    • Problem recognizing identifying nad solving
    • Higher order thinking:  critical thinking, cretive thinking, reasoning, planning, analyzing
    • Abstract thinking
    • Collaboration and cooperation
    • Communication
    • ICTs
    • Self-directed learning

 

Anderson, Rourke, Garrison and Archter’s concept of teaching presence for e-learning settings that use computer conferencing.  They defined it as the ”design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing a personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcome.” During my undergraduate coursework at ESC, I took Italian I and II.  As part of the weekly modules, we were required to participate in weekly discussion (the discussion could be video conferencing or just audio via Elluminate).  In another course, an instructor could have just required the class to do the written part, and to submit an audio assignment.  However, the use of the conferencing allowed for a connection that was created in the course.  We were able to chat for a few minutes before the beginning of the class and at the end, we were allowed to stick around and chat a little more if interested. 

 

Their assessment was part of an action research case study.  The objectives were designed to develop the teaching and learning processes to support a more meaningful learning.  Research objectives and questions included:

  1. How do the teaching activities performed by the teacher support meaningful learning for the students enrolled in thecourse, from both the process and outcome point of view?
  2. In what way does the video-supported case-based teaching used in the course encourage meaningful learning in term of both the process and outcomes?
  3. What kinds of emotions does the case-based teaching used in the course evoke in students, and why does it evoke such emotions?

 

Of the 73 items on the questionnaire: 

  • 9 statements focused on teachers’ support and guidance activities
  • 22 statements formulated to operationalize characteristics of the TML Model
  • 21 statements focused on students’ emotions as they were releveant to learning.  They included:  worry, comfort, boredom, interest, frustration, uncertainty, disappointment, satisfaction, enthusiasm, tension and embarrassment. 

Based on the responses, the top three emotions were challenge, interest and enthusiasm.  Students also responded that online collaboration was a principle source of joy, which supports the argument that social interaction is a powerful generator of emotions.  Though the questions used were not available, I would have to agree with the findings based on my own experience as an online learner.  I want to feel that the experience was a beneficial learning experience, or meaningful learning.  Challenge is an important aspect of the learning process. Though there are different variables that contribute to student dissatisfaction, lack of challenge would be one that if consistently happening, I would have to re-think where I was pursuing my education. 

 

Negative emotions were also cited, with stress and uncertainty ranking as the highest.  These came about out of the following reasons:  Tight course schedules, quantity of material to cover, inadequate directions for learning task, group dynamics and problems with learning management system.  The negative emotions and reasons also seem to be in line with discussions I have had with other online learners.  One of the difficulties in online learning is that it requires the learner to be an independent learner.  Not everyone is able to conform to that type of learning style, which can contribute to higher stress over the course schedule and the quantity of material, as well as feeling the instruction for directions is not what the learner expected. 

 

Hakkarainen, P., Saarelainen, T., Ruokamo, H.  Assessing Teaching and Students’ Meaningful Learning Processes in an E-Learning Course.  (2009)  In C. Spratt, & P. Lajbcygier (Eds.), E-Learning Technologies and Evidence-Based Assessment Approaches. Information Science Reference.  (20 – 32)

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