Developing And Sustaining Social, Psychological, And Cognitive Pathways for Online Learners

Concurrent Session 5
Blended Equity and Inclusion

Brief Abstract

How do you create critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity in an environment that leads to students achieving their goals and better performance?  Does a positive learning experience lead to improved problem-solving, decisions making, performance, and social environments? This interactive presentation will answer these questions and share findings.


Dr. Linda S. Futch is the Interim Direction, Instructional Design, for the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida. Her duties cover instructional design, technical support for online courses, and management of the course management system. Linda has been instrumental in guiding faculty development for online courses and developing systems to support faculty and students. She has developed curriculum and delivered instruction in business, high school, community college, and higher education. For her doctoral dissertation, Linda studied blended learning at a large metropolitan university and is currently studying the design of successful blended courses.
Dr. Rohan Jowallah has worked in education for over twenty years and has international experience, having taught in the Caribbean, England and USA. His teaching experience includes teaching online, face-to-face and blended modes of course delivery. He has taught at various levels: elementary school; middle school; high school and university. Rohan Jowallah holds an Ed.D. in Language and Literacy in Education from the University of Sheffield in England; ME.d. in Special Needs and Inclusion Studies from The Open University in England; BSc in Psychology from The Open University in England; Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education from the University of Wolverhamptom in England and ASc in Secondary Education from Bethlehem Moravian College in Jamaica and a certificate in Social Work from The University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies. Rohan has presented at several international conferences and has had several peer-reviewed publications. He also has a published book chapter and continues to develop work for publication. He has also been a reviewer of several international journals. Rohanís roles at UCF as an instructional designer includes assisting faculty as they transition into online teaching and learning. In addition, he has an active research agenda which focuses on online learning pedagogies, literacy and inclusion. He also works part-time as an adjunct for the University of Central Florida and The University of the West Indies Open Campus.

Extended Abstract

The landscape of higher education continues to shift and with these shifts comes the need for instructors and curriculum developers to be innovative. At times, the rapid changes give limited consideration to theoretical applications that could develop and sustain the social, psychological and cognitive engagement of the online learner. For example, consideration of the constructivist paradigm and social learning theories could be a pathway for influencing psychological factors that go beyond content creation to include an online interactive environment that is conducive to enhancing students learning experiences, gains, and retention. Many students have the need for a sense of community and connectedness to their instructor and classmates.  This need is the chief factor they identify to increase their satisfaction in online courses.

Due to the changes in the instructional environment, evolving learning needs and expectations, instructors and instructional designers are examining and digging deeper into the transactional learning between all stakeholders (teacher-student, student-student, and student-content, and student-computer) related to online learning. Especially important is how relationships influence the creation of positive students psychological behaviors, experiences, and cognitive learning.  Research has been very clear that the classroom environment is one of the most important physiognomies that affect student learning. Simply put, students learn better when they view the teaching and learning environment as a supportive pathway that is interactive, collaborative, and positive, which supports the scenario that the blended/online classroom environment climate is as important as the physical classroom. As the various collaborative tools evolve, many increase capabilities of real-time conferencing, virtual worlds, and more connected communities.  

With these changes, there is an evolving need for socialization and development of relationships in online/blended learning environments. Considering this ongoing need for enhancing students learning experiences in higher education and training, this proposal presents innovative ways for creating and sustaining social, psychological, & cognitive pathways for the online learners.

The presentation will highlight effective strategies that may be used by instructors, curriculum developers, and instructional designers to engage students in working in collaborative partnerships. In addition, the presentation will focus on strategies that help online learners develop their skills to manage conflict thus creating an enhanced and inclusive online learning environment. A key point of this presentation will be a framework that uses the affordances of both pedagogy and technology to enhance the students’ learning experiences.

By creating engaging, rewarding, and experiential learning experiences the team has found the psychological impacts can alter student’s perceptions, attitudes, motivation, and life-long learning. In turn, these experience can affect student outcomes and connections in the online classroom.

Our team of faculty and instructional designers will share our personal experiences, strategies, lessons, and research to chart a path of improve e-learning. Time will be provided for quiet reflection and gathering questions.  A Google doc, Padlet or similar tool will be used to gather questions during the presentation, reflection, and Q&A session.  Paper will be provided for those who do not have electronic access.

During this interactive and informative session, the presenters will:

  • Share best practices and innovative approaches to support active learning experiences

  • Share relevant resources.

  • Interact with audience members to gather their ideas and suggestions on engaging students in an online environment.

  • Discuss ways to increase experiential learning opportunities.