Student Perceptions of Online Learning

Concurrent Session 7

Brief Abstract

After meeting at an OLC conference, Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Canada) and Anne Arundel Community College (Maryland, USA) collaborated to study student perceptions of online learning. Students were surveyed to determine whether scholarly-based practices concerning the design and delivery of online courses were verified by students. Additional partners are welcome!

Presenters

Anna Barichello is an Instructional Design Specialist within the Centre for Teaching Innovation and Excellence. Her primary role involves providing pedagogical support for online course developments. She also participates in Educational Development initiatives, which both profile and support innovation and excellence in teaching and learning at all levels of the university. Anna’s background includes teaching, program management and adult training. In her spare time, Anna likes to take on home-based projects, go hiking with her family, or read a good book.

Extended Abstract

After meeting at the 20th annual OLC conference, Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Canada) and Anne Arundel Community College (Maryland, USA) collaborated on a research project to study student perceptions of online learning. Students from both institutions were surveyed in order to determine whether scholarly-based practices concerning the design and delivery of online courses (e.g., quality standards) were verified by students. The survey findings provided support for practices such as having a well-organized syllabus, course structure (e.g., information presented in manageable chunks, segments, or modules), and clear course expectations and requirements. The survey also provided some interesting correlations such as the number of online courses taken being inversely related to the perceptions of online course difficulty compared to an in-class course. The survey also elucidated the reasons why students chose to take an online course, as well as why they would not take another online course. Finally the survey provided information on student demographics of online learners and self-determination factors (e.g., students study habits) were also explored. Data from both institutions from the fall 2015 survey are being analyzed. This session will discuss results from the initial data analysis and how to best leverage findings. This discovery session would be beneficial for Higher Education institutions at all levels. Interest has already been expressed from additional institutions in Canada and the US to join the project for 2016. Additional partners are welcome! Survey questions: Section 1: Characteristics 1. Are you currently enrolled in your first online course Yes/No (If yes, skip to question 3.) 2. Including this course, what is the number of fully online courses you have taken to date: 1; 2 – 3; 4 – 6; 7 – 10; >10 3. Why did you choose to take an online course (please choose two reasons that best describe your motivation)? • The course was not offered as a classroom course • The classroom course was full • I enjoy contributing to course discussions and feel more comfortable doing this online than in class • I like to take a course during May to August and I’m not close to a Laurier campus during this time • I needed to re-take a course in order to progress in my program • I want to take a lighter course load during the regular school year • Taking an online course helps me manage/balance my schedule (e.g. time management) • I live too far from a Laurier campus to travel to class regularly • Online courses are easier than classroom courses. • I prefer the flexibility provided by online courses (e.g. no set class times) • I prefer online learning as a way to learn/study (e.g. my preferred personal learning style) • I have an accommodation plan through the Accessible Learning Centre, taking on line courses is a recommendation that I follow (from time to time) to complete my degree. • My main reason for taking a course online is not identified in the above reasons Instruction to students: Please read the following items and indicate the importance of each in your opinion in providing an outstanding online learning environment. In my opinion, outstanding online learning environments should... 1 (Strongly disagree) 2 (Disagree) 3 (Neutral) 4 (Agree) 5 (Strongly agree) have clear course expectations and requirements. have a well-organized course syllabus. have a well-organized course structure (e.g., information presented in manageable chunks, segments or modules). offer creative and innovative course materials (e.g., YouTube videos, online simulations, and web-based content). present course content that is easy to follow and navigate. offer a variety of opportunities to interact with other students and the instructor. have content presented in a variety of ways (e.g.,text lessons, multimedia). have content presented in a narrative fashion (i.e., conversational tone, avoids excessive point form). use course materials (e.g., activities and assessments) that are consistent with student expectations (i.e. course materials align with intended course learning outcomes). have graded assessments distributed frequently throughout the term. use both graded and non-graded opportunities for learning. offer models/examples of “good work” to guide student success. offer rubrics (e.g., set of grading criteria with assigned values, scoring outline) clarifying expectations for assignments and activities. have reliable and functioning links to external resources. Involve opportunities to interact with other students through group work and group assignments In my opinion, outstanding online learning delivery should include… (please rank order in terms of most important to least important) clear and meaningful feedback on assignments and exams. fair and consistent grading of assignments and exams. clear communication policies (e.g., hours instructor will be available, netiquette). multiple means to establish and maintain contact with instructor and peers (e.g., email, phone, office location, cell phone, etc.). information about the instructor (e.g., instructor welcome message, instructor personal biography). instructor responding to students’ questions within a designated timeframe receiving grades and feedback on assessments within the timeframe designated by the instructor. Instruction to students: Please read the following items and indicate your response to the questions. 6. Overall, do you feel that you are more or less successful in online courses as compared to classroom course? • More • Same • Less 7. When taking an online course, 1 (Never) 2 (Sometimes) 3 (Neutral) 4 (Frequently) 5 (Always) I keep track of my progress throughout the term. I set specific times to study. I manage my time well. I am self-disciplined. When I encounter challenges, I seek possible solutions on my own before seeking help. I push myself to be successful. When I set goals for myself, I am able to accomplish them. 8. Before taking an online course, I believed that in comparison to a classroom course, the online course would be: • Easier • The same • Harder 9. After taking an online course, I believe that in comparison to classroom courses, online courses are: • Easier • The same • Harder 10. Would you take an online course again (For either response, please elaborate)? YES NO ____________________________________________________________ 11.Please add any comments you may have about your experience with online courses at Laurier. Section 3: Demographic Information 12. How many courses have you completed in your current program, prior to winter term 2016? 0 - 3; 4 – 5; 6 – 10; 11 – 20; 21 – 30; >30 13. Are you currently a: Full time student / Part time student _______ 14. Year you were born: (provide drop down menu with years) 15. Gender: Male Female Other Prefer not to answer 16. Ethnicity: African-American (do not include this question for Laurier) Asian Caucasian Hispanic Aboriginal Other:______ Unknown