Examining Interactive and Metacognitive Processes in Student Learning: Findings From a Hybrid Instructional Environment

Concurrent Session 6
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Brief Abstract

The researchers examined students' interaction, engagement, learning, critical thinking and problem solving skills in synchronous and asynchronous instructional environments.


Dr. Linda Feeney is Director of E-Learning at Stockton University. She is responsible for overseeing the instructional design staff, promoting faculty use of the learning management system, promoting faculty exploration and use of innovative instructional technology, and organizing and delivering digital pedagogy training programs, In addition to her management responsibilities, Dr. Feeney has taught online for three years. She has served as a reviewer for the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program. Dr. Feeney also collaborates with faculty in researching effective pedagogy and instructional delivery.

Extended Abstract

In 2006, The U.S. Department of Education conducted a meta-analysis of online learning studies to determine if any trends were evident. The 2010 update of this report states "When groups of students are learning together online, support mechanisms such as guiding questions generally influence the way students interact, but not the amount they learn" This study examines interaction and metacognition factors in a subset of hybrid graduate level courses that might support or disprove this conclusion.

The graduate program in the School of Education at Stockton University has recently evolved from a fully face-to-face model to an expanded instructional model that includes both face-to-face, hybrid, and fully online learning experiences. The freedom from time constraints in the online environment facilitates cooperative learning opportunities on a flexible schedule. In addition, critical to graduate students, technology facilitates the application of content to their workplace settings. (Putman, Ford, & Tancock, 2012)

Faculty who teach adult students are facilitators, not the primary providers of course content. They specify the requirements of the course, and guide students with specific questions and scenarios that lead to the independent practical application of new learning in the completion of academic requirements (Kasworm, 2011). Faculty who teach adult students also encourage them to take risks when solving problems and consider alternatives that may not be obvious. This leads to broadened perspectives and enhanced relevance of the course content (McDougall, 2015).

Therefore, when considering the move to online delivery for graduate students, courses must be designed with the adult learner in mind. Characteristics of the adult learner include their desire to determine what they learn, how they acquire and use the knowledge, and ways in which they actively engage in the learning process (Dunlap, Dudak & Konty, 2012).

All of these factors contributed to the design of the flipped, hybrid courses examined in this study. Students received new information from a recorded lecture by the teacher. The teacher posed guiding questions based on the lecture content. Students then worked together to answer the teacher's questions. They took turns questioning and responding to each other and asking each other follow up questions. Students were given the option of either verbal dialogue in an online synchronous environment or written discussion in an online asynchronous environment. The researchers hypothesized that the degree to which students apply, analyze, evaluate and create would differ when they communicate verbally as opposed to when they share and respond to the same content in written format, all within the constructivist, flipped classroom model.

A coding sheet was developed to analyze the student communications in the synchronous and asynchronous environments. This coding sheet counted types and instances of interactive and metacognitive behaviors.

Categories of interactive behaviors include emotional content, communication processes, world view, self perception, other perception, and separation. Categories of metacognitive behavior included remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.