Assessing constructivist elements in the online learning environment
William Davis Williamson, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to develop and pilot test a methodology to determine the relative importance and presence of constructivist elements in online learning classes. A case study method was used to assess the effectiveness of four key constructivist elements: knowledge construction, collaborative learning, authentic learning and self-regulation in an online masters level public health course. Nine subjects responded to two survey instruments, while six subjects participated in an online focus group discussion. The key constructivist elements of knowledge construction, cooperative learning and the use of authentic learning were found to positively contribute to student learning in the online environment, while the findings for the fourth key element, (4) self-regulated learning did not support this subconstruct. Collaborative activities such as working in teams was clearly the most important element cited by students as contributing to their learning, indicating that collaborative learning is a critical instructional element. Working with an actual local public health agency on a community assessment project was also cited by students as being important to their learning, suggesting that authentic learning is also effective. Evidence supporting the positive role constructivist elements can play in student learning was supported in both correlational analysis of the questionnaires and in the focus group discussion.
Williamson, W.D. Assessing constructivist elements in the online learning environment. Ph.D. thesis, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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