Improving Student Learning in a Fully Online Teacher Leadership Program: A Design-Based Approach

Improving Student Learning in a Fully Online Teacher Leadership Program: A Design-Based Approach

Scott L. Day (University of Illinois Springfield, USA), Leonard Bogle (University of Illinois Springfield, USA), Karen Swan (University of Illinois Springfield, USA), Daniel Matthews (University of Illinois Springfield, USA) and Emily Boles (University of Illinois Springfield, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1906-7.ch021
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Abstract

This chapter describes how faculty in a fully online Master’s program in teacher leadership are using a design-based approach, grounded in theory and informed by data, to iteratively improve core courses and student learning from them. Specifically, the authors revised their courses to meet Quality Matters (QM) standards for online course design, and then made incremental and ongoing revisions focused on course implementation and based on student responses to the Community of Inquiry (CoI) survey. The first part of the chapter describes the online program in which course improvements are taking place, and the QM and CoI theoretical frameworks. In the main body of the chapter, specific course revisions are discussed and initial findings reported which show significant improvements in student outcomes as a result of these revisions. This section also describes the design-based approach the authors adopted and provides recommendations for others who might want to similarly improve individual courses or program offerings as a whole. The chapter closes with a brief discussion of directions for future research and conclusions, which highlight what the authors believe are the most important aspects of this work.
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Introduction

In the past ten years, the number of higher education institutions offering online courses has increased dramatically; in fall 2010, for example, 31% of all higher education students, over 6.1 million students, took at least one online course (Allen & Seaman, 2011). Given the rapid growth of online education and its importance for postsecondary institutions, it is imperative that institutions of higher education provide quality online programs (Kim & Bonk, 2006). At the same time, state requirements for the improvement of teacher education programs are also increasing. In response to the U.S. Department of Education Title II guidelines and state regulations for teacher certification, teacher preparation programs are embracing the use of technology more readily. Online instructional delivery is one model with which schools of education have experimented in response to this mandate for change (Ragan, Lacey & Nagy, 2002).

This chapter will demonstrate how the Quality Matters (QM) and Community of Inquiry (CoI) frameworks can be applied at the program level to enhance curriculum development and maintain programmatic rigor when evaluating and updating course material for a teacher leadership program. First, we summarize the QM and CoI frameworks. We then describe how the QM standards were applied to individual core courses in the Teacher Leadership program to ensure they had high quality designs. We then describe how the CoI survey was employed across subsequent semesters to improve the implementation of these courses and ensure the development of social, cognitive, and teaching presence within them. We conclude with practical advice for others desiring to make substantive improvements in online learning at the programmatic level.

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