Increasing Interpersonal Interactions in an Online Course: Does Increased Instructor E-mail Activity and a Voluntary In-Person Meeting Time Facilitate Student Learning?

Bianca Cung, Di Xu, Sarah Eichhorn

Abstract


Distance learning is expanding rapidly in universities. While theoretical and qualitative literature stress the critical role of effective interpersonal interactions in motivating students and facilitating learning in online environments, quantitative evidence on the benefits of increased interpersonal interactions on student learning outcomes is limited. This study examines the effect of providing a voluntary meeting time and increasing instructor e-mail activity on student grades in a fully online Pre-Calculus course at a public university. Student selection into courses was minimal since students only had access to one condition at a time. We further use a propensity score matching strategy to address demographic variations in student characteristics across cohorts. Our results indicate that the increased interpersonal interaction opportunities increased final exam scores by 0.22 standard deviations and improved passing rates by 19 percentage points. The Rosenbaum’s sensitivity analysis indicates that it is unlikely that these results are due to omitted variable bias.

Keywords


at-risk students, computers and learning, educational policy, higher education, instructional technologies, instructional practices

Full Text:

PDF

References


Acitelli, L., Black, B., & Axelson, E. (2003). Learning and teaching during office hours. Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan, Retrieved January, 3, 2009.

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2014). Grade change: Tracking online education in the United States, 2013. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. Retrieved on, 3(5), 2014.

An, H., Shin, S., & Lim, K. (2009). The effects of different instructor facilitation approaches on students’ interactions during asynchronous online discussions. Computers & Education, 53(3), 749-760.

Anderson, T. (2003). Getting the mix right again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 4(2).

Berge, Z. L. (1999). Interaction in post-secondary web-based learning. Educational Technology, 39 (1), 5-11.

Bernard, R. M., Abrami, P. C., Borokhovski, E., Wade, C. A., Tamim, R. M., Surkes, M. A., & Bethel, E. C. (2009). A meta-analysis of three types of interaction treatments in distance education. Review of Educational research, 79(3), 1243-1289.

Bippus, A. M., Kearney, P., Plax, T. G., & Brooks, C. F. (2003). Teacher access and mentoring abilities: Predicting the outcome value of extra class communication. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 31(3), 260-275.

Chen, X., & Simone, S. (2016). Remedial Coursetaking at US Public 2-and 4-Year Institutions: Scope, Experiences, and Outcomes. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED568682.pdf

Cho, M. H., & Cho, Y. (2016). Online Instructors’ Use of Scaffolding Strategies to Promote Interactions: A Scale Development Study. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(6).

Cho, M. H., & Kim, B. J. (2013). Students' self-regulation for interaction with others in online learning environments. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 69-75.

Chou, C. (2003). Interactivity and interactive functions in web‐based learning systems: a technical framework for designers. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34(3), 265-279.

Coates, D., Humphreys, B. R., Kane, J., & Vachris, M. A. (2004). “No significant distance” between face-to-face and online instruction: evidence from principles of economics. Economics of Education Review, 23, 533-546.

Figlio, D. N., Rush, M., & Yin, L. (2013). Is it live or is it internet? Experiment estimates of the effects of online instruction on student learning. Journal of Labor Economics, 31, 763-784.

Fredericksen, E., Pickett, A., Shea, P., Pelz, W., & Swan, K. (2000). Student satisfaction and perceived learning with on-line courses: Principles and examples from the SUNY learning network. Journal of Asynchronous learning networks, 4(2), 7-41.

Friesen, N., & Kuskis, A. (2013). Modes of interaction. In In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of Distance Education, 3rd ed, pp. 351-371. New York, NY: Routledge.

Fulford, C.P., & Zhang, S. (1993). Perceptions of interaction: The critical predictor in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 7(3), 8–21.

Griffin, W. et. al., (2014). Starting the conversation: An exploratory study of factors that influence student office hour use. College Teaching, 62 (3), 94-99.

Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. J. (1997). Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer-mediated conferencing environment. The American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8–26.

Hara, N. (2000). Student distress in a web-based distance education course. Information, Communication & Society, 3(4), 557-579.

Hassini, E. (2006). Student–instructor communication: The role of email. Computers & Education, 47(1), 29-40.

Hew, K. F., Cheung, W. S., & Ng, C. S. L. (2010). Student contribution in asynchronous online discussion: A review of the research and empirical exploration. Instructional science, 38(6), 571-606.

Jaasma, M. A., & Koper, R. J. (1999). The relationship of student‐faculty out‐of‐class communication to instructor immediacy and trust and to student motivation. Communication Education, 48(1), 41-47.

Jaggars, S. S., & Xu, D. (2016). How do online course design features influence student performance?. Computers & Education, 95, 270-284.

Jiang, M., & Ting, E. (1999). A Study of Students' Perceived Learning in a Web-Based Online Environment.

Kang, M., & Im, T. (2013). Factors of learner-instructor interaction which predict perceived learning outcomes in online learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(3), 292-301.

Kearsley, G. (1995). The nature and values of interaction in distance education. In Third Distance Education Research Symposium. University Park, PA: American Center for the Study of Distance Education.

Mandernach, B. J., Forrest, K. D., Babutzke, J. L., & Manker, L. R. (2009). The role of instructor interactivity in promoting critical thinking in online and face-to-face classrooms. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5(1), 49-62.

Moore, M.G. (1989). Three types of interaction. American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2), 1-7.

Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Nadler, M. K., & Nadler, L. B. (2000). Out of class communication between faculty and students: A faculty perspective. Communication Studies, 51(2), 176-188.

Northrup, P. T. (2002). Online learners' preferences for interaction. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 3(2), 219-26.

Picciano, A. G. (2001). Distance learning: Making connections across virtual space and time. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Radford, A. W., & Horn, L. (2012). An Overview of Classes Taken and Credits Earned by Beginning Postsecondary Students. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013151rev.pdf

Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities: The key to active online learning. London, United Kingdom: Kogan Page.

Salmon, G. (2004). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning on-line. London, United Kingdom: Kogan Page.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2006). Knowledge building: Theory, pedagogy, and technology. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 97–118).New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Schunk, D. H., Pintrich, P. R. & Meece, J. L. (2008). Motivation in education. Theory, research, and applications (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.

Shearer, R. (2013). Theory to practice in instructional design. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (3rd ed., pp. 251–267). New York, NY: Routledge.

Sherry, L. (1995). Issues in distance learning. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1(4), 337–365.

Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. London, UK: Wiley.

Skiomsvold, P. (2014). Profile of Undergraduate Students: 2011-12. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2015/2015167.pdf

Su, B., Bonk, C. J., Magjuka, R. J., Liu, X., & Lee, S. H. (2005). The importance of interaction in web-based education: A program-level case study of online MBA courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 4(1), 1-19.

Swan, K., Shea, P., Fredericksen, E., Pickett, A., Pelz, W., & Maher, G. (2000). Building knowledge building communities: Consistency, contact and communication in the virtual classroom. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 23(4), 359-383.

Weimer, M. (2015, Jan 21). Why Students Don’t Attend Office Hours. Retrieved May 30, 2017, from https://www.facultyfocus.com/.

Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2011). The effectiveness of distance education across Virginia’s Community Colleges: Evidence from introductory college-level math and English courses. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis,33(3), 360-377.

Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2013). Adaptability to online learning: Differences across types of students and academic subject areas. CCRC Working Paper No. 54. Community College Research Center, Columbia University.

Young, S. (2006). Student views of effective online teaching in higher education. American Journal of Distance Education, 20(2), 65-77.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v22i3.1322