Finalising the evaluation process...
As mentioned in previous blogs, the report by Bates and Obexer (2005), influenced to a certain extent the methodology used in our evaluation.
The report was based on a variety of theories combined (Gunawardena, 1996, Palloff & Pratt, 1999, Salmon, 2000, and Jonassen, 1998) which centred around the five principles of social presence, interaction, cognitive learning, and learner-centredness, in an online environment.
Bates & Obexer used an eclectic mixed-method appproach (Reeves, 1996) was used combining qualitative and quantitive methods, which was also our approach in order to triangulate our findings.
I thought it a useful approach to complete the two questionnaires, one earlier on in the course and then at the end, to evaluate students perceptions in view of teaching and learning strategies.
Our data collection also included a questionnaire, a student focus group to encourage further feedback and a peer review to gain a perception of the course, from a fellow tutor.
They also included an observation which was not possible with our evaluation as our evaluation was being conducted as a summative effectiveness evaluation, however, observation of student interaction with the course and materials were observed via our peer review.
The study involved a much greater student body, 49, as opposed to our 16 students. However, of the 49, only 12 students (24%) replied to the end of semester survey, whereas from our 16 students, 8 students (50%) replied.
The results of the analysis by Bates and Obexer are given in regard to the five principles of the framework:
A strong social presence was provided, actively encouraging student participation. The students felt part of their learning community and enjoyed the online environment.
A high level of interaction was indicated by the postings on the discussion board. They found found the discussion board effective as a learning tool.
The students stated that the learning activities stimulated their learning, and that the content of the course authentic and well-structured.
Students didn't seem to enjoy this type of activity, although 50% did indicate the group assignment useful.
It was noted that the activity was very time consuming.
The purpose of putting the responsibility of learning into their own hands.
The students perceptions were mixed. The negotiation of marks identified 8.3% agreed it was useful for their learning, 16.7% not sure, and 58% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.
It was suggested where some students are ready for a student-centred approach, others may need specific coaching.
The conclusion of the findings were not as clearly reported. One needed to read through the report to gain a clearer understanding. However, I found the report easy to read.