22 SES 03 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
The number of courses being delivered via the Internet is increasing rapidly and the literature related to online learning has expanded considerably in the last 10 years. However, our knowledge of what makes these courses effective learning experiences is rather limited. The movement toward online learning is not grounded in compelling empirical evidence that is effective and/or beneficial for learning and many of the studies in online learning remain rather "anecdotal" (Song et al, 2004).
To facilitate successful learning experiences, higher education institutions should develop distance education policies that will maintain course integrity and quality and foster innovation in the ‘‘virtual classroom’’ to enhance student learning. With the rapid growth worldwide of teaching and learning on the Internet, more attention must be dedicated to the nature and quality of online higher education.
Qualitative methods are considered useful tools to evaluate the effectiveness of distance education programs (Beck & Kacirek, 2011). The current study presents an attempt to empirically address the issue of quality in an online program offered by the University of the Aegean in Greece since 2004. The program that was evaluated is an innovative, graduate education program on workplace change, adult learning and gender. The program includes Blackboard, a web-based classroom management system, and two face-to-face weekend gatherings of students and faculty on every semester.
The primary objectives of the study were to obtain a comprehensive view of students' experiences and perspectives of e-learning, to investigate which weaknesses, barriers and challenges contribute most to course dissatisfaction, and to identify the critical elements of a quantitative assessment framework. The study also set out to explore how program evaluation that employs qualitative methodology may help bridge the gap between the empirical focus on course instruction and the programmatic and conceptual elements that have been largely missing from the distance education literature.
Beck, J. K., & Kacirek, K. (2011). Using Qualitative Methods to Evaluate Distance Education: A Case Study. In V. Wang (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Information Communication Technologies and Adult Education Integration (pp. 337-359). Eatough, V., & Smith, J. A. (2008). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In C. Willig and W. Stainton Rogers. Handbook of Qualitatitive Psychology (pp.179-124). London: Sage. Larkin, M., Eatough, V., & Osborn, M. (2011) Interpretative phenomenological analysis and embodied, active, situated cognition. Theory and Psychology, 21, 318-337. Larkin, M., Watts, S., & Clifton, E. (2006). Giving voice and making sense in Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 102-120. McGorry, S. Y. (2003). Measuring quality in online programs. Internet and Higher Education, 6, 159-177. Smith, J. A. (2008). Qualitative Psychology: A practical guide to research methods. Sage. Smith, J. A. (2011). Evaluation the contribution of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Health Psychology Review, 5, 9-27. Smith, J. A., Jarman, M., & Osborn, M. (1999). Doing interpretative phenomenological analysis. In M. Murray & K. Chamberlain (Eds.), Qualitative health psychology: Theories and methods (pp. 218-240). London: Sage. Song, L., Singleton, E. S., Hill, J. R., & Koh, M. H. (2004). Improving online learning: Student perceptions of useful and challenging characteristics. The Internet and Higher Education, 7, 59-70.
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