Volume 12, Number 1, Spring 2013
Community of Inquiry Framework: Establishing Community in an Online Course
Using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, the author conducted a mixed method research study to examine the existence of the three CoI elements in a graduate-level educational technology online course. The author also looked at student perceptions and preference for community in online learning. High mean scores on the CoI showed that all three elements of CoI were more than adequately addressed in the course, particularly teaching presence. Lowest scores indicated that some students were uncomfortable expressing themselves in an online environment and felt a lack of freedom to disagree with class members. Demographic data showed that students preferred a sense of community but were not so fond of collaborative assignments that are essential for building the community they desire. Since collaborative assignments demand a greater degree of communication and ability to bring problems to an adequate resolution, it is plausible that inhibitions in expressing oneself may become more pronounced when more collaboration is required.
Using Learning Analytics to Predict (and Improve) Student Success: A Faculty Perspective
Learning analytics is receiving increased attention, in part because it offers to assist educational institutions in increasing student retention, improving student success, and easing the burden of accountability. Although these large-scale issues are worthy of consideration, faculty might also be interested in how they can use learning analytics in their own courses to help their students succeed. In this paper, we define learning analytics, how it has been used in educational institutions, what learning analytics tools are available, and how faculty can make use of data in their courses to monitor and predict student performance. Finally, we discuss several issues and concerns with the use of learning analytics in higher education.
A Comparative Study of an Online and a Face-to-Face Chemistry Course
While online and face-to-face (F2F) courses have been compared in numerous studies, there has been a lack of focus on online chemistry courses. This study was conducted to compare the success of students instructed in an online or F2F general chemistry course for non-majors. One hundred forty six exam questions were categorized according to Bloom’s revised taxonomy and student success on each problem was analyzed. Comparison of online and F2F courses showed significant differences at the lowest order of thinking, “remember,” with online students performing better than F2F students. A similar result was seen with the next order of thinking, “understand,” but there were no significant differences observed between online and F2F students for exam questions at the “analyze” level. The observed advantage for online students may be because online instruction promotes better memorization of facts or because students good at memorization gravitate towards online courses. No significant differences were seen between online and F2F courses when comparing the various chemistry topics covered in the exams. Online instruction appears to be as effective as F2F instruction when teaching introductory chemistry topics.