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High vs. Low Collaboration Courses: Impact on Learning Presence, Community of Inquiry, and Social Networking

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Researchers demonstrated a relationship between learning presence and social engagement; however, research in this area is limited. For example, no distinctions are made as to what role faculty, students, or technology might play in facilitating social engagement. In general, researchers revealed that students' ability to self-regulate leads to more focused attention, time on-task, and in turn, these skills could lead to better learning. Given the need for more theoretical work in the area, as well as the potential practical benefits from the use of these pedagogical strategies, we sought to compare the difference between high versus low-collaboration groups on assignments, as well as courses in general. Differences in groups were measured using student grades, peer evaluation, pre and post test, and the community of inquiry framework. In addition, learning presence and social network analysis were used to assess a high-collaboration assignment.
In the current study, the researchers explored how collaborative technologies, specifically Google Docs and Google Hangouts, may be used to impact the level of learning presence (forethought and planning, performance, and reflection) students demonstrate while participating in a small group project. Participants were graduate education students in two randomly assigned sections of the same online course. The course content focused on basic educational psychology for students seeking initial teaching certification. The experimental section utilized a high-collaboration project (e.g., small group, Google Hangouts and Docs) to enhance understanding of course content while the comparison, control section employed a low-collaboration project (e.g., partner activity, Word documents) to enhance understanding of course content. Participants completed the Community of Inquiry (CoI) Survey at the end of the term which measured their perceived level of teaching, social, and cognitive presence during the course. Quantitative content analysis was used to explore occurrences of learning presence in the high-collaboration group. *Finally, we employed social network analysis (SNA) as a method of inquiry to analyze student interaction data with the high-collaboration group. SNA is used to explain relationships depicted by information flow and its influence from participants' interactions. Scholars have used SNA in the online learning context to understand individual and group dimensions of interactions.

*Social Network Analysis (SNA) will not be addressed in this presentation but will be included in the manuscript.

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High vs. Low Collaboration Courses: Impact on Learning Presence, Community of Inquiry, and Social Networking

  1. 1. High vs. Low Collaboration Courses: Impact on Learning Presence, Community of Inquiry, and Social Networking http://bit.ly/spucollaboration David Wicks (Seattle Pacific University, USA) Baine Craft (Seattle Pacific University, USA) Andrew Lumpe (Seattle Pacific University, USA) Robin Henrikson (Seattle Pacific University, USA) Nalline Baliram (Seattle Pacific University, USA) Don Lee (Seattle Pacific University, USA) October 29, 2014 Online Learning Consortium International Conference Orlando, Florida, USA
  2. 2. Abstract Researchers demonstrated a relationship between learning presence and social engagement; however, research in this area is limited. For example, no distinctions are made as to what role faculty, students, or technology might play in facilitating social engagement. In general, researchers revealed that students' ability to self-regulate leads to more focused attention, time on-task, and in turn, these skills could lead to better learning. Given the need for more theoretical work in the area, as well as the potential practical benefits from the use of these pedagogical strategies, we sought to compare the difference between high versus low-collaboration groups on assignments, as well as courses in general. Differences in groups were measured using student grades, peer evaluation, pre and post test, and the community of inquiry framework. In addition, learning presence and social network analysis were used to assess a high-collaboration assignment. In the current study, the researchers explored how collaborative technologies, specifically Google Docs and Google Hangouts, may be used to impact the level of learning presence (forethought and planning, performance, and reflection) students demonstrate while participating in a small group project. Participants were graduate education students in two randomly assigned sections of the same online course. The course content focused on basic educational psychology for students seeking initial teaching certification. The experimental section utilized a high-collaboration project (e.g., small group, Google Hangouts and Docs) to enhance understanding of course content while the comparison, control section employed a low-collaboration project (e.g., partner activity, Word documents) to enhance understanding of course content. Participants completed the Community of Inquiry (CoI) Survey at the end of the term which measured their perceived level of teaching, social, and cognitive presence during the course. Quantitative content analysis was used to explore occurrences of learning presence in the high-collaboration group. *Finally, we employed social network analysis (SNA) as a method of inquiry to analyze student interaction data with the high-collaboration group. SNA is used to explain relationships depicted by information flow and its influence from participants' interactions. Scholars have used SNA in the online learning context to understand individual and group dimensions of interactions. *Social Network Analysis (SNA) will not be addressed in this presentation but will be included in the manuscript.
  3. 3. Introduction Quality continues to be a concern with online learning. Isolation and disconnectedness can lead to student dissatisfaction and attrition (Angelino, Williams, & Natvig, 2007; Kanuka & Jugdev, 2006) Literature ● Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection (Means et al., 2009) ● Students' ability to self-regulate leads to more focused attention, time on-task, and in turn, these skills could lead to better learning (Shea et al., 2014) How can learning activities be improved to give learners more control of planning, performance, and reflection?
  4. 4. Community of Inquiry “An educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.” ● Social Presence ○ Affective Expression ○ Open Communication ○ Group Cohesion ● Teaching Presence ○ Design ○ Facilitation ○ Instruction ● Cognitive Presence ○ Triggering Event ○ Exploration ○ Integration ○ Resolution https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/
  5. 5. Learning Presence “Iterative processes of forethought and planning, monitoring and adapting strategies for learning, and reflecting on results that successful students use to regulate their learning in online, interactive environments” (Shea et al., 2014)
  6. 6. Shea, P., Hayes, S., Uzuner Smith, S., Vickers, J., Bidjerano, T., Gozza-Cohen, M., Jian, S., Pickett, A., Wilde, J., & Tseng, C. (2013). Online learner self-regulation: Learning presence viewed through quantitative content- and social network analysis. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 14(3), 427-461. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index. php/irrodl/article/view/1466
  7. 7. Learning Activity Design Teams collaborate on project to synthesis major themes. ● Forethought & Planning ○ Students create contract for how they will work together ● Monitorings ○ Project done in phases ● Strategy Use ○ Collaboration using Docs & Hangouts - assist one another ● Reflections ○ Students blog about their learning Defined as High Collaboration (HC). Low Collaboration (LC) - min. student interaction.
  8. 8. Research Questions ● Does level of collaboration impact student learning? (HC vs LC) ● Does level of collaboration impact CoI and learning presence? (HC vs LC)
  9. 9. Methods
  10. 10. Course Information Course Name: Learners in Context Course Purpose: 1. Explore characteristics of a ‘brain friendly’ lesson, 2. Learn the developmental theories of adolescence 3. Subject matter under investigation- ○ biology, psychology, sociology, language, motivation, and peer relations, as they relate to child and adolescent development. Participants: Alternate Route to Certification (one year program) or Master in Arts for Teacher (two-year program) all combined into two different sections
  11. 11. Participants ● Participants (N = 47) were randomly assigned to one of two graduate courses. ● In the low collaboration group (males = 7, females = 17), participants had a mean age of 32. 09 (SD = 9.47). ● In the high collaboration group (males = 5, females = 18), participants had a mean age of 29.65 (SD = 8.04).
  12. 12. Instructional Strategy ● Designed for online learners ● Both sections received identical instruction and resources: ○ Weekly reading assignments ○ Weekly discussion topics ○ Weekly lectures via screencast ● Required text for both sections: ○ Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press. ○ Pressley, M. & McCormick, C. B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  13. 13. Difference in Instructional Methods Low Collaboration Section High Collaboration Section 1) Discussion Forum Participation ● Students choose one of the questions to respond to within the discussion forum. ● Students respond to two follow-up responses. 2) bPortfolio Reflections ● Students were assigned a total of four reflections 3) Theory to Practice Paper ● A four page term paper at the end of the course ● Students will demonstrate their emerging knowledge of developmental theories and their implications for practice. ● Individual Assignment 4) Partner Practice Lesson ● Students work with a partner to complete the assignment. ● Students were free to collaborate or use a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy to complete the assignment. 1) Discussion Forum Participation ● Students choose one of the questions to respond to within the discussion forum. ● Students respond to two follow-up responses. 2) bPortfolio Reflections ● Students were assigned a total of three reflections 3) Theory to Practice Project ● Presentation completed in groups of 3 - 4 ● Students will demonstrate their emerging knowledge of developmental theories and their implications for practice. ● Students collaborative using Google Hangout on Air 4) Peer Evaluations for Theory to Practice Project ● Students evaluated members in the group for Phases 2 - 4 5) Practice Lesson Plans ● Individual assignment
  14. 14. Phase 1 of Theory to Practice Project ● Groups developed a Team Charter. ○ First they reviewed and responded to the prompts individually in their Google Doc page. ○ Second they used Google Hangout on Air to develop a final version of the charter. ● Team charters were very detailed and demonstrated creativity. ● Some groups initially struggled with the technology.
  15. 15. Phase 2 and 3 of Theory to Practice Project Phase two and three were in outline form as a preparation for final presentation (phase four) ● Theories of child development to begin the outline. ● They summarize the prompts posed in this phase individually, then collaboratively. ● Using Google Hangout on Air, students worked synchronously to create an outline ● Students discussed the prompts and agreed cohesively on a final response for each of the prompts. ● Discussions on Google Hangout on Air appeared be conducted with better ease. ● Students completed each prompt in detailed form. ● They utilized their texts, discussion blogs, and outside resources
  16. 16. Phase 4-Final Presentation ● Final presentation via Google Hangout on Air ● 15 - 20 minutes ● All team members participation required ● Reflection on development theories studied in the course Targeted Presentation Audience: emerging and current educators
  17. 17. Theory to Practice Paper ● 3 - 4 pages in length ● 3 theories of child development from class ○ Demonstrate understanding ○ Minimal application in the learning environment ○ Papers were aligned with the rubric
  18. 18. Partner Practice Lesson Plans ● Purpose - to integrate theories of human development with instruction, through lesson plan design. ● Students working in pairs can provide support for each other ● They used a “divide and conquer” strategy ● Final product of the assignment: ○ Well developed ○ Detailed ○ Aligned with the rubric ○ Complete
  19. 19. Workload - Students ● Discussions ○ 1 - 2 hours per week for each section ● Reflections ○ 4 hours for the low collaboration section (4 reflections) ○ 3 hours for the high collaboration section (3 reflections) ● Practice Lesson Plans ○ 1 - 2 hours per phase for low collaboration section ○ 1 - 2 hours per phase for high collaboration section ● Theory to Practice Paper/Project ○ 2 - 3 hours for the low collaboration section (Paper) ○ 2 - 3 hours for each of the four phases for the high collaboration section (Project and Presentation)
  20. 20. Workload - Instructors ● Course Preparation ○ 10 hours for high collaboration section ○ 5 hours for low collaboration section ● Feedback on Discussions and Reflections ○ 2 - 3 hours per week for each section ● Feedback on Practice Lesson Plans ○ 2 - 3 hours per phase for low collaboration section ○ 4 - 6 hours per phase for high collaboration section ● Feedback on Theory to Practice Paper/Project ○ 8 - 9 hours for the low collaboration (Paper at end of the quarter) ○ 2 - 3 hours for each of the four phases for the high collaboration section (Project and Presentation)
  21. 21. Results
  22. 22. Results Grades: ● No statistically significant difference was found between the low and high collaboration groups’ grades, t(66) = 1.05, p = .30
  23. 23. Results Community of Inquiry ● No significant difference between groups ● No significant interaction of groups by factor ● Significant difference across Teaching, Social, and Cognitive Presence, F(2, 66) = 7.25, p = .001 (see Figure 1). ○ Post-hoc revealed a difference between Teaching and Social Presence (p = .007)
  24. 24. Results
  25. 25. Results Pre-post Test ● No significant difference between the low and high collaboration groups. ● No significant interaction of group by pre-post. ● Significant difference across the pre to post-test, F(1, 52) = 1109.48, p < .05.
  26. 26. Results
  27. 27. Coding Learning Presence ● 4 categories of Learning Presence as outlined by Shea, et al. (2013) ○ Forethought and Planning ○ Monitoring ○ Strategy Use ○ Reflection ● Two coders trained/agreement ● Phase 3 discussions/hangouts and post course metareflection blog ● Random sample of statements selected ● Coded each sentence/statement as an instance
  28. 28. Learning Presence Examples Forethought and Planning “Yeah, let's do that for our opening and then that touches on most of the topics and then we can do paragraphs on the specific ones that we think are really important.” “As a future educator, I hope to take this information into the classroom.” Monitoring “Now that I have provided my hook and applied the hook to the topic of this week’s module, did I present a successful hook according to Medina?” “I think it is valuable to think about ways we can incorporate technology into the classroom as many students really connect with technology.”
  29. 29. Learning Presence Examples Strategy Use “This approach makes common sense because if I start my lesson plan with the standards in mind, I can create it to build knowledge through activities and instruction with the students ultimately achieving understandings of the standards.” “I will be using distributed knowledge in my class by engaging my students in critiques of famous art pieces.” Reflection “One takeaway from this class is Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development” which can be thought of as the “sweet spot” for learning or level of difficulty just beyond the student’s current ability.” “I have a tendency to think in terms of black and white, however throughout this quarter I have been struck by the varying shades of grey of child development.”
  30. 30. Learning Presence - Discussions group Mean Rank Forethought low coll 3.20 high coll 7.80 Monitoring low coll 6.00 high coll 5.00 Strategy Use low coll 7.40 high coll 3.60 Reflection low coll 5.80 high coll 5.20 Kruskal Wallis Test Foretho ught Monitorin g Strategy Use Reflecti on Chi-Square 5.806 .273 3.938 .099 df 1 1 1 1 Asymp. Sig. .016 .602 .047 .753
  31. 31. Learning Presence - Blog group Mean Rank Forethought low coll 4.80 high coll 6.20 Monitoring low coll 6.50 high coll 4.50 Strategy Use low coll 6.20 high coll 4.80 Reflection low coll 5.30 high coll 5.70 Kruskal Wallis Test Forethou ght Monitorin g Strategy Use Reflecti on Chi-Square .562 1.125 .541 .045 df 1 1 1 1 Asymp. Sig. .454 .289 .462 .832
  32. 32. Discussion
  33. 33. Discussion: Grades & Pre-post Test ● The type of collaboration did not result in differences in student’s grades. ● The pre-post test did show that student’s knowledge of course content changed across the course, albeit not due to differences between the high and low collaboration groups. ● Overall, students learned and their learning was similar between groups.
  34. 34. Discussion: Community of Inquiry ● According to the Community of Inquiry, students in both groups perceived the courses similarly with the high collaboration group responding slightly lower on all factors. ● Overall, students perceived Teaching Presence higher than Social Presence. ● Interestingly, the low collaboration group perceived greater Teaching Presence than the high collaboration.
  35. 35. Discussion - Learning Presence ● Monitoring and strategy use were most common during phase 3 of the course ● Higher strategy use and reflection were observed during blogs by both groups ○ But not sure the level of reflection ● High collaboration group had higher forethought in discussions ● Low collaboration group had higher strategy use in discussions ● No real differences observed across groups in blogs
  36. 36. Instructor perceptions ● Students completing the Theory to Practice Project produced a presentation that represented ○ Deep understanding of child development and classroom applications ○ Professionalism ○ Creativity ● Despite the workload, it is worthwhile to do the high collaboration strategy. However, some things to change: ○ Fewer students per section ○ Delivery of the assignment (Project) ○ Pre-assess students on their experience with Google Docs and Hangout on Air to provide tutorials, etc. ○ Make the practice lesson plans a partner activity
  37. 37. Thank You Questions? Suggestions? For more information contact: David Wicks dwicks@spu.edu Special thanks to Dr. Katya Nemtchinova, Xu Bian, and Katy Wicks

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