New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
A major criticism leveled at Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is the lack of hands-on learning opportunities. ABCx (identifying information removed) offered by X University counters this criticism by offering highly interactive virtual labs and Do It Yourself (DIY) lab experiment videos in addition to regular lecture videos, quizzes, and a discussion forum. The first cohort of this course in Fall 2013 attracted learners from 143 countries. As part of this course, a subset of learners (5163 out of total 24,112 enrolled) volunteered to participate in a Randomized Control Trial (RCT). Of this set of volunteers, the treatment group (185 learners) received lab kits on which they could perform experiments using neuroscience and electrical engineering principles. The aim of the RCT was to evaluate the impact of using at-home physical lab kits with the online course. In this on-going study, we have already performed quantitative and qualitative analysis to understand the learning behaviors and interaction with the course website of learners in the treatment group, which showed: 1) There was no significant bivariate correlation between the number of page views and student grades, and 2) There were numerous “outlier” students who had high interaction with the course website and either had a low grade or did not attempt the final exam (reference removed for blinding purposes). This study will investigate students of the control group.
As this course provides a variety of engaging learning opportunities to its students, we use Chi’s ICAP framework to generate our research question and to help us analyze our findings. This framework provides a hierarchical distinction between four types of learning activities: 1) INTERACTIVE activities support learners’ peer-to-peer co-construction of knowledge (e.g., interaction on discussion forums), 2) CONSTRUCTIVE learning activities require learners to interpret existing learning content and generate new knowledge (e.g., virtual lab experiments), 3) ACTIVE learning involves physical manipulation of learning material (e.g., manipulating controls of the video lecture questions), 4) PASSIVE learning activities do not require students to perform overt tasks (e.g., reading an e-textbook) (Chi, 2009; Chi & Wylie, 2014).
This work in progress focuses on understanding the learning behaviors and website interaction of learners in the control group (4798 learners) and the comparative differences between the findings of the control and treatment groups. The data sources we utilize for this study include pre- and post-course surveys, discussion forum and clickstream data. We use descriptive and inferential statistics to answer our research question(s). For learners of ABCx: are the interactive activities better than constructive activities? Are constructive activities better than active activities, and Are active activities better than passive activities? Further, we perform a comparative analysis to investigate the differences in learning patterns of students in the treatment and control group, while they use these four types of activities. This study has major implications for STEM MOOCs with lab components. Understanding how users benefit from different kinds of learning activities may help MOOC designers develop activities to support higher engagement and increased student learning outcomes via online learning environments.
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