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Investigation of Technology-based Student Interaction for Social Learning in Online Courses

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Computers in Education 5 - Online and Distributed Learning 2

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Sunay Palsole Texas A&M University

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Dr. Palsole is Assistant Vice Chancellor for Remote Engineering Education at Texas A&M University, and has been involved in academic technology for over 20 years. He helped establish the Engineering Studio for Advanced Instruction & Learning (eSAIL), a full service unit focused on online and technology enhanced learning. He and his colleagues have helped design and create market driven strategies for courses, certificates and programs. Prior to Texas A&M, he was the Associate Vice Provost for Digital Learning at UT San Antonio, where he established the Office of Digital Learning that created a unit focused on innovative delivery across the entire spectrum of technology enabled learning - from in-class to online.

Over his career, he has helped a few hundred faculty from varied disciplines develop hybrid and online courses. He has also taught traditional, hybrid and online courses ranging in size from 28 to 250. He is also co-developer of a Digital Academy which was a finalist for the Innovation Award by the Professional and Organizational Development Network and an Innovation Award winner. He was also named as the Center for Digital Education’s Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers for 2016. His focus on the user experience and data, has led to development and adoption of design strategies that measure learning and teaching efficacies across his service in various institutions of higher education.

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Jaskirat Singh Batra Texas A&M University

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Jaskirat Singh Batra is a Ph.D. candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. He received M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University, College Station, TX and B.S. in Engineering Science from Trinity University, San Antonio, TX. He is actively involved in research (both disciplinary and engineering education), teaching and mentoring. He has 4 years of experience in engineering education research. Previously, Jaskirat has investigated the use of Virtual Reality-based instruction and its impact on student motivation to learn complex 3D concepts in materials science. Jaskirat Singh Batra is a graduate of the Academy for Future Faculty and Teaching-as-Research Fellows programs, and he was selected as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the College of Engineering in 2018-2019. Prior to that, Jaskirat served as a Research Mentor for a research-based lab course and a Teaching Assistant for several classroom-based undergraduate courses. He wants to utilize his diverse teaching and research experience to promote the use of evidence-based educational technology in training STEM students. He has also worked for 2 years as Graduate Assistant at the Center for Teaching Excellence where he supports the graduate students' professional development in teaching.

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Xi Zhao Texas A&M University

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Xi Zhao is a holder of Associate and Practitioner Certificates from the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), which is dedicated to improving the teaching of STEM disciplines in higher education. Ms. Zhao received a Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture and Master of Architecture. She is currently working on her doctorate in the field of building science, engineering, and design at the Texas A&M University. Her research is partially supported by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) scholarships. In parallel to her doctoral research, Ms. Zhao teaches design studios at the architecture program as an instructor at the Texas A&M University. Prior to that, she was a graduate teaching assistant for courses taught in the programs of Architecture, Architectural Engineering, and Interdisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M University. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Zhao taught Traditional Face-to-Face (F2F) classes. Throughout the pandemic, Ms. Zhao teaches by using various methods, including F2F with Remote Option, Remote Only, and Mixed/Hybrid.

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In March 2020, the college of engineering in a large university in the southwest was required to teach the STEM courses in technology-enhanced formats with no face-to-face class meetings. As a response, all the courses were forced to rapidly migrate to an online or remote teaching/learning environment in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This rapid change in teaching and learning modalities caused disruptions in the learning cycles, which lead to the development and adoption of mitigation strategies. The student interactions in online and remote courses have been shown to have an impact on their learning, similar to the student interaction in face-to-face courses which affects their learning. In addition to traditional learning in courses, social learning while informal in nature, has been shown to have significant effects on student learning. The goal of this study is to investigate: (i) the different technology/platforms and methods for interaction used by the instructors for the online STEM courses (ii) the tools that students adopted to manage their interactions with other students and with faculty outside the online STEM courses, and (iii) how the student interaction for asynchronous online courses compares to synchronous courses (remote courses) taken by the student. Preliminary results of the data collected through a survey indicate that students tended to use tools with robust mobile apps such as GroupMe & Slack to increase their interaction with other students outside of the online “class time” irrespective of the modality of instruction. Also, students interacted less with each other outside the online session in synchronous courses (1.24 hours per week on average) and more during the asynchronous courses (2.95 hours per week on average). However, when asked to rate the satisfaction with the interaction, the students rated their interactions in synchronous courses higher (median, mode = 4) than asynchronous courses (median, mode = 3) . Further analysis of the data will be carried out to understand the relationship between time spent and satisfaction when interacting in synchronous and asynchronous course.

Palsole, S., & Batra, J. S., & Zhao, X. (2021, July), Investigation of Technology-based Student Interaction for Social Learning in Online Courses Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37404

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