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Instructional Interaction and Student Persistence in Online Education

Instructional Interaction and Student Persistence in Online Education. Steven Tello, Ed. D. Associate Director of Distance Learning University of Massachusetts Lowell Sloan-C Conference on ALN November 15, 2003. Objectives. Why is Instructional Interaction important?

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Instructional Interaction and Student Persistence in Online Education

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  1. Instructional Interaction and Student Persistence in Online Education Steven Tello, Ed. D.Associate Director of Distance LearningUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell Sloan-C Conference on ALNNovember 15, 2003

  2. Objectives • Why is Instructional Interaction important? • Present research study & findings, illustrating relationship between instructional interaction and student persistence • Discuss the relationship between instructional interaction, student attitudes and student persistence • Discuss how online faculty development & online programs might be structured to support student persistence

  3. What Is Instructional Interaction? • Interaction • Reciprocal communication events between at least two objects(Wagner, 1994) • Learner:Instructor, Learner:Student, Learner:Content, and Others(Moore, 1989, Anderson & Garrison, 1998) • Asynchronous & Synchronous, with strengths/limits • Instructional Interaction • Communication between student & instructor, or students, which discusses course content, assignments or student progress.(Kearsley, 1995; Wagner, 1994) • Facilitated, mediated, by technology in online education

  4. Why is Instructional Interaction Important? • Formal (academic) & Informal (social) Interaction among FTF faculty & students supports achievement, retention, degree completion. (Kuh & Hu, 2001; Pascarell & Terenzini, 1976; Tinto, 1987) • Seven Principles of Good Practice emphasize communication & interaction (Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996) • High Positive Correlation between Student Perceptions of Interaction, Teacher Presence, Student Satisfaction and Perceived Learning in online education(Shea, Frederickson, Pickett & Pelz, 2002; Piccione, 2003)

  5. Research Study • Examined the relationship between Instructional Interaction & Student Persistence in online university program • Population • 1620 students/76 online courses • 4 graduate courses, 72 undergraduate courses • Non-experimental, correlational study using a survey research methodology • Persister Survey - online survey instrument • Non-persister Survey - telephone or mail survey • Persistence data - Per course measure of students who completed online course

  6. Research Questions • Is there a relationship between frequency of instructional interaction and levels of student persistence in online courses? • Is there a relationship between method of instructional interaction and student persistence in online courses? • Do the reasons students provide for failure to persist in online courses differ based on the frequency or method of instructional interaction? • Do other variables emerge as correlates of persistence among students in online courses?

  7. Demographic & Situational Data • Persister Response Rate • 70% by course (N=74), 64% by student (N=1122) • Non-persister Response Rate • 45% by student (N=102) RQ3 • Persisters & Non-persisters similarly distributed in: • Age, Gender, Children at Home, Primary Role, INET • Persister & Non-persister differences included: • Greater % of Non-persisters worked over 40 hrs/week (66% NP, 53% P). • Significantly greater % of Persisters were enrolled in a program of study (72% P, 57% NP). • Significantly greater % of Persisters indicated Intent to Return (86% P, 58% NP)

  8. Course Persistence Rates • Persistence Rate = Total Enrollment/Adjusted Course Enrollment

  9. Question 1. Frequency :: Persistence? • Strong Positive Correlation between Freq. of Instructor (to student) and Freq. of Student (to student) Interaction, r50 = .68, p<.001 • Instructor to Student Interaction occurs more frequently than Student to Student,t(51)=9.13, p=.000, mean difference = .51 • No direct correlation between Frequency of Instructional Interaction and Persistence

  10. Question 2. Method :: Persistence? • Methods of Interaction included: • Synchronous, text-based chat • Asynchronous discussion forum • Asynchronous email lists • Established reliability of student reported data • Compared student reported interaction data in 10 courses to chat & discussion archive • Student reported data reflected archive in 90% • In one course, archive was not available

  11. Question 2. Findings • Differences between Per Course Primary Method of Instructor Interaction & Primary Method of Student Interaction • Instructors (37%) were 3X as likely as students (13%) to use All Methods Equally • Students (44%) were 3X as likely as instructors (15%) to use primarily Discussion Forum • Instructors used chat and email lists more frequently than the average student in their courses. • Chat t(51)=12.77, p=.000, mean difference = .58 • Email lists t(51)=15.16, p=.003, mean difference = .97

  12. Question 2: Findings • Frequency of Instructor use of a specific method was highly correlated to frequency of student use of the same method: • Chat Method r50 = .80, p<.001 • Discussion Method r50 = .87, p<.001 • Email Method r50 = .41, p< .01 • These correlations supported use of Method of Interaction Indexes. However, no direct correlation observed between Method of Interaction Indexes & Persistence.

  13. Question 3. Reasons? • Why did non-persisters withdraw? • Why persisters did not intend to take another online course? • Why persisters indicated intent to return? • Student level, rather than course level analysis. • Frequencies, Percentages, Cross Tabs, Chi-Square.

  14. Question 3. Findings • Non-persister reasons for withdrawal: (n=46)Work Commitments 30%Content Expectations 23%Instructor Contact 11% • Persister reasons for not taking another online course:(n=62)Course Not Offered Online 29%Instructor Contact Not What Expected 11%Work Commitments 2% • Persister reasons for Intent to Return: (n = 279) Time Convenience 45%Complete Program 28%

  15. Question 4. Other Correlates • Student Attitudes were positively related to Frequency of Instructor Interaction & Use of Asynchronous Methods

  16. Question 4. Findings • Modest correlation between Student Attitude to Interaction & Course Persistence Ratesr50 = -.30, p<.05 (negative value reflects Transformed Persistence Rate) • Moderate correlation between Student Perception of Discussion Contribution & Course Persistence Rates r50 = -.41, p<.01 (negative value reflects Transformed Persistence Rate) • Contribution of Method variables were positively related to Method of Interaction Indexes. • Chat Method r50 = .70, p<.001 • Discussion Method r50 = .84, p<.001 • Email Method r50 = .57, p< .001

  17. Question 4. Findings • Emergence of Contribution of Method variables as correlates of Persistence & Method of Interaction Indexes suggested need for further investigation. • A linear regression equation was created combining the 3 Contribution of Method variables and the 3 Method of Interaction Indexes. • 26% of the variance in Persistence Rate was accounted for by combination of Contribution of Discussion Method and Discussion Method Index scores.R2=.26, F(2,48)=8.57, p<.05

  18. Conclusions • Multiple factors support an indirect relationship between instructional interaction & persistence. • There is a positive relationship between use of asynchronous methods & both student attitudes to interaction & their online course experience. • Student attitudes to discussion forum combined with instructor use of discussion forum are positively related to persistence. • Situational & Institutional Barriers also affect a student’s decision to persist within a course or program of study: • Work commitment is a primary reason for student withdrawal • Time convenience is a primary reason for participation • Matriculation into a program of study characteristic of persisters

  19. Recommendations & Questions • Faculty Development • Facilitate discussion regarding adult students • Who are they? What motivates participation? What barriers do they confront? • How can asynchronous interaction support student participation? How best to integrate asynchronous interaction into online course? • Technology Development • Why do students use particular methods? • Will high-speed INET increase student access or limit adults to synchronous participation? • Develop communications tools which support both synchronous & asynchronous interaction.

  20. Recommendations & Questions • Program Development • Know your students • Help students to know themselves, self-assessment • Monitor student progress toward matriculation • Review institutional matriculation policy & practice • Publicize accurate information regarding course content, timelines, expectations • Conduct ongoing evaluation program • Develop complete online programs with broad institutional support.

  21. Instructional Interaction and Student Persistence in Online Education Steven Tello, Ed. D.Associate Director of Distance LearningUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell Sloan-C Conference on ALNNovember 15, 2003

  22. Table 1Demographic & Situational Similarities

  23. Table 2Situational Differences df = 1, *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001

  24. Figure 1.Primary Method of Instructor & Student Interaction N=52

  25. Table 3 • Intercorrelations of Frequency of Instructor Interaction by Method by Frequency of Student Interaction by Method.

  26. Figure 2. Non-persister Reasons for Withdrawal • (n =46)

  27. Figure 3. Persister Reasons for not Returning (n = 62)

  28. Figure 4. Persister Reasons for Returning (n = 279)

  29. Table 4 Regression Analysis Summary for 3 Method of Interaction Index & 3 Contribution Scores Predicting Transformed Persistence Rate

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