Appendix D: Summary of studies on online lab courses

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1 1 Appendix D: Summary of studies on online lab courses 1) Sloan Consortium Class Differences: Online Education in the United States (2011) Searched for lab, laboratory, science found no significant hits = 2) Department of Education Distance Education in Higher Education (2011) Searched for lab, laboratory found no hits : o 2,961,000 students (15.5% of all students) took distance education courses. o 973,000 students (5.1% of all students) took distance education courses : o 4,277,000 students (20.4% of all students) took distance education courses. o 769,000 students (3.7% of all students) completed their entire degree through distance education. o 763,000 postbaccalaureate students (22.1% of all postbaccalaureate students) took at least one distance education course o 302,000 postbaccalaureate students (8.7% of all postbaccalaureate students) took their entire program through distance education. 3) The Digital Revolution and Higher Education (Pew Research Center) Searched for lab, laboratory, found no significant hits. Searched for science found In addition, college graduates who majored in business are more likely than those who majored in science, engineering or liberal arts to have taken online courses. 4) Distance Education Enrollments at Illinois Colleges and Universities, Spring 2011 (Illinois Virtual Campus) Searched for lab, laboratory, science found no significant hits 5) Engaging Faculty in Online Learning - Rightsizing Incentives and Optimizing Support (Education Advisory Board University Leadership Council) 2010 Found some reference to science courses and science labs Natural Sciences and Mathematics Disciplinary Predisposition to Online Ed Ease of Curricular Conversion Relative Impact on UG Enrollment/ Access Potential ROI from Master s, Professional Ed Comment Typically high failure rates make gateway courses good candidates for student-centered online or

2 2 hybrid course redesign High degree of disciplinary consensus increases faculty receptivity to teaching online courses designed by others Lab components difficult to recreate online 6) Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, 2010 (US Department of Education) Found some reference to science courses and science labs Abstract A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size. As a result of this screening, 50 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes measured as the difference between treatment and control means, divided by the pooled standard deviation was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face. Analysts noted that these blended conditions often included additional learning time and instructional elements not received by students in control conditions. This finding suggests that the positive effects associated with blended learning should not be attributed to the media, per se. An unexpected finding was the small number of rigorous published studies contrasting online and face-to-face learning conditions for K 12 students. In light of this small corpus, caution is required in generalizing to the K 12 population because the results are derived for the most part from studies in other settings (e.g., medical training, higher education). The most common subject matter was medicine or health care. Other content types were computer science, teacher education, mathematics, languages, science, social science, and business. Mentions a study of online lab experience for 5 th graders in Taiwan: Sun, Lin and Yu (2008) conducted a quasi-experimental study to examine the effectiveness of a virtual Web-based science lab with 113 fifth-grade students in Taiwan. Although both treatment and control groups received an equal number of class hours and although both groups conducted manual experiments, students in the treatment condition used the virtual Web-based science lab for part of their lab time. The Web-based lab enabled students to conduct virtual experiments while teachers observed student work and corrected errors online. The control group students conducted equivalent experiments using conventional lab equipment. Matched pre- and posttest scores on researcherdeveloped assessments were collected for a total of 113 students (56 from the treatment group and 57 from the comparison group) in four classrooms from two randomly sampled schools. An effect size of favoring the virtual lab condition was obtained from analysis of covariance results, controlling for pretest scores.

3 3 Interesting references: Schoenfeld-Tacher, R., S. McConnell, and M. Graham Do no harm: A comparison of the effects of online vs. traditional delivery media on a science course. Journal of Science Education and Technology 10 (3): Stevens, K Two Canadian approaches to teaching biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics to senior high school students in virtual classes. Paper presented at the Australasian Science Education Research Association, Rotorua, New Zealand. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED451987). Sun, K., Y. Lin, and C. Yu A study on learning effect among different learning styles in a Web-based lab of science for elementary school students. Computers & Education 50 (4): Hilbelink, A. J The effectiveness and user perception of 3-dimensional digital human anatomy in an online undergraduate anatomy laboratory. PhD diss. dissertation, University of South Florida, Orlando. 7) Going the Distance: Online Education in the U.S., 2011 (The Sloan Consortium) Found some information about the fact the Engineering distance education, after showing a steep decline recently, has leveled out. There is some reference to courses from the Liberal Arts and Sciences, but no evidence that there is much activity in physical sciences. The Health Sciences are showing the most robust growth. Found no hits on lab or laboratory, and only generic Social Science type hits on the word science. 8) Learning at a Distance: Undergraduate Enrollment in Distance Education Courses and Degree Programs (NCES) 2011 Natural science, engineering, and mathematics enrollments for distance-education courses lower than compared to overall undergraduate population. Found no hits for lab, or laboratory. 9) Maintaining Academic Integrity in Online Courses 2011 Apparently spearheaded by the Community College Leadership Forum (Education Advisory Board, Washington, DC) Found no hits for science, laboratory, or lab. 10) Measuring and Improving Online Student Retention Apparently spearheaded by the University Leadership Council (Education Advisory Board, Washington, DC) Found no hits for science, laboratory. Found one hit for a writing (not science) lab. 11) NCES Fast Facts: How many how many students take distance learning courses at the postsecondary level? (2011)

4 4 Simply some online course enrollment data from An appended table shows 22.3% of all students taking an online course were listed as taking courses in the field other, which included physical science, other programs, and students with no major. Certainly no information about physical science labs and the structure of the data implies that physical science is a very small component of online education. 12) National Study of Students and Information Technology in Higher Education 2011 (EDUCAUSE) This is a survey of student use and perceptions of technology. Interestingly, only 2% of the students (N=78) were in the physical sciences, including math. The biological/life sciences students surveyed represented 14% of the those surveyed (N=408). 58% of students surveyed do not think an online course is equivalent to an in-class course. Interestingly, one recommendation of the study is to offer more hybrid/blended courses. Does not appear to address lab courses. 13) Online and Continuing Education in the Fine and Performing Arts Was primarily looking for science labs, but thought this was still worth a look for lab/studio etc. experiences. It turns out that the need for studio experiences parallels the need for science lab experiences and the two disciplinary areas share similar concerns. Here is an excerpt Contacts identify the studio arts format as a challenge to adopting online courses for fine and performing arts. Contacts report that many fine arts courses require live interaction and observation, a requirement that does not translate well to an online medium. At one institution, contacts cited an ear training music course as an example of course material best taught in a traditional classroom because it demands auditory training through person-to-person interaction. By contrast, contacts identify art history lecture courses as a successful example of an online fine arts class. These classes are more conducive to an online environment because they require less interaction between professor and student and because the format lectures, readings, exams can easily be transferred to the web. Given the challenges of creating studio arts courses that are purely online, several contacts envision the creation of hybrid courses that blend traditional classroom learning with online interaction. Contacts identify Blackboard and Moodle as software tools capable of facilitating online courses by creating virtual classrooms. Among contact institutions, none offer full degree programs for continuing education in the fine and performing arts. Contacts at one institution report that they fear diluting the institution s prestige by offering degrees through continuing education coursework. Instead, contacts identify continuing education as a tool for personal enrichment, professional development (e.g., artists who want to improve their performance ability), and as a way for students to take credit-bearing classes to satisfy prerequisite requirements for entrance into a degree-granting program. In a later section of the same study

5 5 The Challenges of an Online Medium for Studio-Based Fine Arts Coursework While many lecture-based courses in the fine arts (e.g., art history) can be adapted to become online courses, contacts identify several challenges when transitioning studio-based fine arts coursework to the online setting. The format of most studio-based arts classes demands an interactive experience between learners and instructors. Students need to incorporate detailed feedback given to them by faculty members and other students in order to improve their work. Executives at the University C have engaged in preliminary internal discussions about the creation of online courses, but contacts relate that there are significant technological limitations to achieving the live interaction necessary for performance and ear training courses. Since these courses compose the majority of offerings at University C, contacts report that there has not been much progress toward developing online courses. 14) Online Distance Education: Models for Centralized Support, Instruction, and Revenue Allocation (Education Advisory Board 2009). A very interesting paper dealing with important issues but not apparently meant to address lab classes online. 15) Online Student Course Evaluations: Strategies for Increasing Student Participation Rates (Education Advisory Board 2009). Does attempt to address the possibility of different approaches to online evaluation of courses by students based on special considerations for individual disciplines (science, laboratory, etc.) 16) Supporting Online Learners: Strategies for Assisting and Assessing Online Learners (Community College Leadership 2009) Another interesting article that deals with assessing the ability of students to succeed in an online course. 17) Strong Faculty Engagement in Online Learning APLU Reports, 2009 (Sloan Consortium) An interesting excerpt August 31, 2009 More than one-third of public university faculty have taught an online course while more than one-half have recommended an online course to students, according to an unprecedented study of administrative and faculty views toward online learning released today by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities-Sloan National Commission on Online Learning. In addition, nearly 64 percent of faculty said it takes somewhat more or a lot more effort to teach online compared to a face-to-face course. However, a large majority of faculty cited student needs as a primary motivator for teaching online, most commonly citing meet student needs for flexible access or the best way to reach particular students as the reason they choose to teach online courses. The two-volume report, Online Learning as a Strategic Asset, contains the results of 231 interviews conducted with administrators, faculty, and students at 45 public institutions across the country and more than 10,700 responses from faculty across the spectrum of teaching positions tenure/non-

6 tenure track; full- and part-time; and both those who have and those who have not taught online. The report was underwritten by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. While faculty engagement in online learning is solid, faculty expressed dissatisfaction with the support services provided and the incentives offered by public universities. Faculty ranked seven of eight support dimensions as below average, including support for online course development, course delivery, and students; policies on intellectual property; recognition in tenure and promotion; and incentives for developing and delivering online courses. Only technology infrastructure was rated average. Faculty gave the lowest ranking to their institution s incentives for developing and for delivering online courses. Interestingly, no hits on searches for science or laboratory in either volume of the published study. 6

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