Transformative eLearning Engagement Tools Used in Research Classes

Transformative eLearning Engagement Tools Used in Research Classes

Austin Kureethara Manuel (Midwestern State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6956-6.ch014
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Abstract

Research classes, particularly where you learn to write literature reviews, are challenging endeavors, especially in an online setting. The current pandemic situations and the consequent changes in instructional modes—where face-to-instruction has turned to an online format—multiply these challenges. The faculty, using available resources, modify and adapt lessons to meet the online course environment requirements. In this chapter, higher education faculty attempt to share the experiences and experiments on various strategies used throughout this course.
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Introduction

Graduate students enroll in research classes as part of their degree plan to fulfill the demand for action research in their area of study. Before indulging in full-fledged research, students must enroll in an initial research class, where they learn to write literature reviews. The activities in research classes demand that the young researchers have a tremendous change in their writing skills and pose challenges to transform their perspectives to effectively match the challenges to be endured in these strenuous endeavors. The nature of the activities in research classes calls for understanding statistical analyses and to synthesize the literature related to their study topic. Undoubtedly, the acquisition of the skills required to be an effective researcher is challenging in a regular face-to-face learning environment. The recent changes, mainly due to the pandemic situations, imposed on the learning environment forced faculty to adhere to an online learning environment, posing added challenges to the learning process in research classes. The young researchers may be well versed in writing persuasive essays but may lack skills in reading research literature, especially the peer-reviewed literature. The students may lack the knowledge of technical terms and research concepts required to meaningfully analyze peer-reviewed literature. The learning curve involved in the acquisition of skills in comprehending the research process and the associated statistical analysis concepts, especially in an online environment requires the faculty to improvise students’ learning experiences. It is important to engage them in meaningful coursework to ensure the quality of their final product—the literature review, which leads to their successful research activities (Dier, 2017). Instruction in this course revolves around two broad areas, namely, gathering details on the individual student’s topic of interest to write a literature review and learning the research-related skills required to understand the literature leading them to conduct meaningful research. While the former requires individualized training, the latter calls for whole-class instruction. Both these scenarios demand the instructors to create a transformative social learning environment using eLearning engagement strategies. Further, it is necessary to include navigational assistance for the eLearning environment related to the Learner Management System (LMS) used for the course.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Learning Environment: This type of environment normally is housed within a learning management system (LMS) framework, that includes not only areas of information deposit for the learner’s engagement, but also the additional instructional tools such as assignment submission and evaluation areas, grade interface, bulletin board discussions, chat sessions, small group areas, in-course private mail, and many online learning environments offer additional plug-in social learning resources such as video conferencing. This environment may be synchronous, asynchronous, or a mix of both synchronous and asynchronous experiences and engagements.

eLearning Engagement Tools: Resources that support social learning constructs within the online environment enhance the cognitive engagement of learners while maintaining engagement within face to face, online, blended, and flipped learning environments.

Instructional Mode: Instruction may occur within different modalities, including the traditional face to face instructional environment, but may also include distance learning environments that include blended modalities, flipped classroom modalities, as well as fully online modalities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, early 2020 saw the immediacy of higher education’s shutdown during which time all courses immediately moved into a remote learning environment as a response to the events occurring; slowly, remote learning shifted into a more formalized synchronous and asynchronous online learning environment.

Research Classes: Classes focused upon research within higher education include not only statistical engagement associated with the analysis of data, but also a larger understanding of research design, methodology, literature review, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, presentation of research findings, as well as discussions and conclusions.

Research Course: A course experience may focus upon specific qualitative or quantitative research methods, with a depth of engagement towards enhancing the learner’s understanding associated with specific research methods implemented appropriately throughout research-focused coursework efforts.

Higher Education: The post-secondary realm of traditional and formalized educational learning environments is defined as higher education. This construct includes community colleges as well as universities within the United States of America.

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