Is This Your Best Work?: Complications and Limitations of Online Instruction for High Quality Student Engagement

Is This Your Best Work?: Complications and Limitations of Online Instruction for High Quality Student Engagement

Cynthia J. Benton (SUNY Cortland, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2584-4.ch076


This chapter summarizes both psychological and achievement considerations for student participation in online learning environments. Using journaling, student responses, and interviews, this study yielded consistent conclusions regarding the need for supported and interactive opportunities for students to interact with both peers and the instructor of the online course. Online classroom practices are described, and a number of issues contributing to student success and satisfaction are summarized. Future concerns for practices in online instruction and student learning are described.
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Program Background And Study Rationale

Many dynamic factors must be considered in designing approaches to online instruction, including student capabilities, course content and assessment, and often the inherent instability of digital technologies which make the learning process a challenging one (Prensky, 2001). Recent innovations in teaching with technology have highlighted the importance of curriculum-based technology integration (AACTE, 2008; McDonald, Stodel, Farres, Breithaupt, & Gabriel, 2001) as well as the effectiveness of comparative methods for course instruction and evaluation (Sitzmann, Kraiger, Stewart, & Wisher, 2006; Tallent-Runnels et al., 2006).

Different instructional methodologies have contributed to emerging knowledge of student self-efficacy regarding computer use (Torkzadeh & Van Dyke, 2002). One documented learning benefit which has emerged from years of online instruction is the possible greater opportunity for reflection and creation of supportive online communities (Dede, 2004). Learners who tend to be silent in face-to-face settings may make more frequent and meaningful contributions in mediated online interaction (Liaw, 2002; Saito & Miwa, 2007). The electronic classroom may also provide unique opportunities for experiencing virtual experiences and interactive communication not practicable in a typical classroom setting (Preece & Maloney-Krichmar, 2003). Some critical determinants for successful online learning have been identified, particularly the necessity for students to be actively engaged in initiating learning (Dringus, 2000), in accommodating the ways in which students incorporate prior knowledge (Rafi-Nachmias & Segev, 2003), and in critical feedback for promoting understanding of the content (Nelson, 2007; O'Leary & Quinlan, 2007).

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