Volume 7, Issue 2, Summer 2008

Learning Science Online: What Matters for Science Teachers?

Elizabeth Rowe
Jodi Asbell-Clark


Online education is a rapidly growing phenomenon for science teachers. Using a sample of 40 online science courses for teachers offered during the 2004-2005 academic year, the Learning Science Online (LSO) study explores what characteristics of online science courses are most strongly associated with positive learning outcomes among science teachers, after accounting for teachers’ prior science experiences and demographics. This research is unique in that it is the first aggregate study of teachers learning science online in a wide variety of educational programs. Hierarchical linear modeling points to changing roles of instructors and students in online courses, with lower perceived levels of instructor support and a supportive course design strongly associated with positive learning outcomes.

Students’ Perceptions of Online-learning Quality given Comfort, Motivation, Satisfaction, and Experience

Michael C. Rodriguez
University of Minnesota 

Ann Ooms
Kingston University, UK

Marcel Montañez
New Mexico State University


Understanding factors in successful online course experiences can provide suggestions for instructors and students to promote improved learning experiences. A survey of 700 students regarding perceptions of online-learning quality was analyzed with a structural equation model. For students with online-learning experience, comfort with technology and motivation to learn technology skills were related to satisfaction with online courses, which was related to perceived quality. For students with hybrid-learning experience, comfort was related to motivation and perceived quality, motivation was related to satisfaction, and satisfaction was related to perceived quality. For students with no online-learning experiences, comfort was related to motivation to learn technology skills, but neither of these factors was related to perceived quality of online courses.

Do Rewards Shape Online Discussions?

Katrina A. Meyer
The University of Memphis


This research attempted to test whether the granting of points for receiving the most votes as the “best post” would affect the quality of subsequent postings to online discussions. Five online discussions were held in a small graduate-level course in leadership theory, and postings were coded into Bloom’s taxonomy. Quality was defined as the percent of postings in the upper three levels (Analyze, Evaluate, and Create), but did not change. By asking students their reasons for choosing a posting as best, content analysis resulted in five reasons: “personal,” “new,” “stimulating,” “informative,” and “like me,” which are compared to the instructor’s views. When asked if the availability of points affected their performance, nine students felt the points did not affect their postings and two students tried harder because of them. While these results do not capture a link between receiving rewards and improved quality in online discussions, this exercise may capture the process whereby compliments for good postings may set the standard for how graduate students think and contribute online.

Instructor's Scaffolding in Support of Student's Metacognition through a Teacher Education Online Course - A Case Study

Roni Reingold
Achva-College of Education, Israel 

Rikki Rimor
The Open University of Israel

Anat Kalay
Ben-Gurion University, Israel


This study describes the relationship between the instructor's feedback and students' metacognitive processes in an online course on democracy and multiculturalism, which was taught as part of a teacher education program. 700 postings, written by 68 students, were content analyzed along with 66 postings by the instructor, using tools designed for that purpose. A strong positive correlation was found between the instructor's responses and students' metacognitive thinking demonstrating the importance of instructor's feedback in helping to produce an environment in which students would experience learning through reflective and metacognitive processes. Our study highlights the unique potential of online courses coupled with instructor's scaffolding to promote and study students’ metacognitive reflections. Implications for the design of teacher education programs are also discussed.

Learning Efficacy and Cost-effectiveness of Print Versus e-Book Instructional Material in an Introductory Financial Accounting Course

David Annand
Athabasca University


This article describes the concurrent development of paper-based and e-book versions of a textbook and related instructional material used in an introductory-level financial accounting course. Break-even analysis is used to compare costs of the two media. A study conducted with 109 students is also used to evaluate the two media with respect to relative learning effectiveness and selected qualitative attributes. Print-based material was generally preferred by learners. No significant difference was found regarding learning effectiveness. Implications of lower relative production and distributions costs for e-books are discussed in this context.

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