Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Wrong Question

This article reports on a study that looks at the difference in college student performance between students in a traditional Psych 101 class and peers who took the same class online.

Here are some results of the study:
The online model, the study found, was particularly successful for disadvantaged or underprepared students - low-income students, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with low grades or ACT scores. And students in general do better in the class, too, earning a higher percentage of As and Bs than students earn in traditional Psych 101.

I think this will naturally fall into a bigger discussion about technologically savvy students and how they learn better/differently and how college instruction must change. Etc. Etc.

I wonder if that is the wrong issue. Here's another quote from the article:
"The way the class is set up, students have to spend a certain amount of time on the course material," Meadows said. "The second thing is that - and this is a particular bit of genius on Diane's part - the TAs and Diane play a very supportive role to students in the class. They're continually on the sidelines, asking if they have questions, asking if they need assistance. . . . It's a very nurturing environment that I think students respond to very well."
So, were the positive outcomes the result of the physical learning environment (lecture versus online) or were they the result of the actual learning environment created by the instructors?

What do you think?

1 comment:

Connie Knapp said...

I think that they were a result of the environment set up by those "on the sidelines." Last spring I taught an on-line graduate course in data mining. I held optional face-to-face meetings but the bulk of the class was on-line. Today I got this great note from someone who was in that class. He said "The effort that you put in presenting the topics in a clear way, deepening the more difficult ones, and fostering collaboration and ideas' exchange also with on-line connections with the other campus were second to none.
I'm sharing this not to brag, but to point out that it's not the technology but it's the environment, imho.