It’s Family Feud! What do you know about Quality Online Instruction & Positive Student Experience?

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

In this session, we will reveal the building blocks of a Model of Quality Online Instruction, optimized for positive student experiences. Come test your knowledge and assess your own methods in this interactive session! Leave with a diagnostic tool to evaluate quality online learning.


Lisa LoBasso currently serves as the Director of Graduate Academic and Student Services at the University of Scranton. She holds a doctoral degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Administration and Leadership Studies. Her experiences include 14 years in higher education and 10 years in elementary public education, working in a variety of settings with diverse student populations. Dr. LoBasso also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Scranton.
Laurel has experience designing and evaluating digital learning environments for both children and adults. When creating media-rich environments, Laurel's main objective is to let the learning outcomes drive the technology decisions. Working in learning design combines two of Laurel's biggest passions: building things and teaching others. Laurel has been a builder and a tinkerer since she was a little kid; she spent so much of her free time as a child building toys, making up games, and working on craft projects. In addition, Laurel has worked in the field of education since she was a teenager, working as a tutor for elementary school children after school. In college she became fascinated with learning about how the brain works and her passion for learning about learning grew even deeper. Over the course of her career, Laurel has worked with learners of all ages, in both formal and non-formal settings. She's taught preschool and elementary school, she's developed and TA'ed graduate-level courses, she's led children's workshops in a museum, and she's even taught adult courses on how to knit and sew!

Extended Abstract

In online education, it can be difficult to know where to invest your time and energy to make the biggest impact on student satisfaction, success, and experience. In this presentation, we will reveal a new Model of Quality Online Instruction informed by the current state of the literature and expert consensus. This model highlights five levels to building quality in online courses. We will provide evidence to support the relationship between teaching presence, student satisfaction, engagement, and academic success.

The presentation will kick off with an affinity mapping exercise to activate attendees’ prior knowledge about what components of the online teaching and learning process have the biggest impact on student experience. Then, we’ll leverage the outcomes of the affinity map into a Family Feud-style game and we’ll close with a presentation of our model and the accompanying research. The takeaway for our attendees will be a simple diagnostic tool they can use to complete their own self-assessment on how they are applying key characteristics of instructor quality in their online teaching that will result in a positive student experience.

During the initial affinity mapping exercise, individuals will jot down characteristics of instructors and their teaching strategies that are most likely to positively impact the student experience. Then, small groups of 4-8 attendees will work together to review each other’s ideas, consolidate similar thinking, and rank the characteristics from highest to lowest impact. This ranked list will be what each team submits to the Family Feud round. Based on our research and the model of instructor quality we’ve developed, we have a list of the characteristics that have an impact on the student experience, and we’ll compare each group’s list to our master list in the style of Family Feud (e.g. teams get “points” for each item on their list that matches the master list). Our master list includes the following (please note: in the interest of the game's integrity, we would remove the master list from the session description if accepted):

  • High Quality Course Design
  • Comfort in the LMS
    • This is a layer that we often take for granted, but it’s a critical component that needs to be in place in order for instructors to have the opportunity to do more custom engagement with students. Comfort in the LMS includes things such as: understanding how to navigate the course, fluency in the gradebook settings and features, confidence in posting in announcements and discussion forums, etc.
  • Social Presence that Recognizes Students
    • This involves techniques that demonstrate immediacy and intimacy in social interactions. Immediacy includes techniques to create a feeling of closeness such as calling students by name, acknowledging their work, and create a sense of group cohesion. Instructors can demonstrate intimacy by offering specific support tailored to individual students--embodying that sense that each individual is valued. (Pina & Bohn, 2014) (Richardson, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. (2017)
  • Social Presence that Reveals the Instructor
    • This layer focuses on techniques to make the instructor seem “real” and “there” with students. When instructors share personal anecdotes, offer humor, and show emotion, they are reinforcing the understanding that they are real and in a collaborative relationship with students. (Pina & Bohn, 2014) (Richardson, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. (2017)
  • Positive Instructor Disposition
    • Instructor disposition is the top layer of the model because it involves higher level thinking--emotional intelligence, empathy, and passion. These characteristics distinguish it from social presence-- as one can be present but not genuinely invested. The techniques for conveying your investment in your students and your course take time to develop and master. For example, one instructor might copy and paste generic feedback for assignment submissions and that feedback conveys a sense of presence, but it doesn’t provide the unique and specialized touch of a more experienced instructor who can provide individualized feedback.


You can see the visual of our model in this image:

After we have concluded our Family Feud comparison, we’ll spend a few minutes detailing the visual of our model and describing techniques that instructors can implement on each step of the model to “level up” their teaching practice. To help attendees internalize these techniques, we’ll ask for active participation. For example, we’ll provide one technique for social presence that reveals the instructor & their expertise like “providing just-in-time information about the course design and organization” and then ask attendees to do a quick brainstorm of 2-3 other things they can do in their own courses.

Finally, we’ll finish the presentation by handing out a diagnostic self-assessment tool we’ve developed to help instructors identify where they are on our pyramid model and where they can get the greatest impact from investing their time. The diagnostic tool will focus on continuous improvement with the idea that each term you can gradually add new techniques to your teaching practice to improve student satisfaction & engagement and academic success.