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Work in Progress: Investigation of the Psychological and Demographic Characteristics that Impact Performance in Online Modules and Courses

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Student Engagement, Socioemotional Needs, and Social Support During Pandemic

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38176

Download Count

112

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Paper Authors

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Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Sarah Zappe is Research Professor and Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She holds a doctoral degree in educational psychology emphasizing applied measurement and testing. In her position, Sarah is responsible for developing instructional support programs for faculty, providing evaluation support for educational proposals and projects, and working with faculty to publish educational research. Her research interests primarily involve creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship education.

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Stephanie Cutler Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Stephanie Cutler has degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering, and a PhD in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. She is an Assistant Research Professor and the Assessment and Instructional Support Specialist in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State as well as a co-founder of Zappe and Cutler Educational Consulting, LLC. Her primary research interest include faculty development, the peer review process, the doctoral experience, and the adoption of evidence-based teaching strategies.

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Sam Spiegel Colorado School of Mines

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Dr. Spiegel is the Assistant Provost and Executive Director of the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center at the Colorado School of Mines. He previously served as Chair of the Disciplinary Literacy in Science Team at the Institute for Learning (IFL) and Associate Director of Outreach and Development for the Swanson School of Engineering's Engineering Education Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, he was a science educator at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). Dr. Spiegel also served as Director of Research & Development for a multimedia development company and as founding Director of the Center for Integrating Research & Learning (CIRL) at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University. Under Dr. Spiegel's leadership, the CIRL matured into a thriving Center recognized as one of the leading National Science Foundation Laboratories for activities to promote science, mathematics, and technology (STEM) education. While at Florida State University, Dr. Spiegel also directed an award winning teacher enhancement program for middle grades science teachers, entitled Science For Early Adolescence Teachers (Science FEAT).

His extensive background in science education includes experiences as both a middle school and high school science teacher, teaching science at elementary through graduate level, developing formative assessment instruments, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in science and science education, working with high-risk youth in alternative education centers, working in science museums, designing and facilitating online courses, multimedia curriculum development, and leading and researching professional learning for educators. The Association for the Education of Teachers of Science (AETS) honored Dr. Spiegel for his efforts in teacher education with the Innovation in Teaching Science Teachers award (1997).

Dr. Spiegel's current efforts focus on educational reform and in the innovation of teaching and learning resources and practices.

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Deb Jordan Colorado School of Mines

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Deb Jordan is a Research Associate at the Trenfy Innovative Instruction Center at Colorado School of Mines. Deb serves as lead Faculty Developer and NSF PEER Project Manager. She has extensive experience in curriculum development, project management, and professional learning (development). She has worked as a Senior Fellow on the Disciplinary Literacy in Science Team at the Institute for Learning (IFL) at the University of Pittsburgh, Science Educator at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), and as a Senior Consultant at McREL International. She has an M.A. in Special Education/Moderate Needs and has a broad background in science education including K-12 Science Coordinator and teacher.

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Ariana C. Vasquez Colorado School of Mines

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Ariana Vasquez is a Research Associate at Colorado School of Mines. She earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. Ariana’s research focuses on motivation, learning, and achievement. Her research is driven by a desire to find solutions to educational problems in the classrooms. Her work experience while at UT Austin, included time at the Charles A. Dana Center, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and as a project manager for a large scale longitudinal research study in high school science classrooms. Prior to joining Mines Ariana was a Survey Team manager at GLG in Austin, TX.

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Abstract

This work-in-progress research study is being conducted as part of a larger project funded by the National Science foundation investigating online learning pathways in Advanced Manufacturing and Data Science. The overall project will create multiple online modular learning experiences for learners in four different populations: industry professionals, 2-year college students, 4-year college students, and informal learners. These four learner contexts provide an opportunity to study how the structure of online modules/courses and the characteristics of learners could potentially impact learners’ performance and behaviors.

Literature from educational psychology posits several constructs that can potentially impact academic performance and course behaviors. One variable includes the learner’s beliefs about the malleability of human traits (such as ability or intelligence), also known as growth vs. fixed mindset. According to Dweck (2016), learners with growth mindsets have the belief that human traits are incremental and can be changed with practice and training. Learners with fixed mindsets believe that traits are immutable and cannot be changed, regardless of practice or training. Research has supported that having a growth mindset positively relates to academic performance (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007), self-efficacy (Komarraju and Nadler, 2013), and motivational beliefs (Dinger, Dickhäuser, Spinath, & Steinmayr, 2013).

Mindset, self-efficacy, and metacognition individually have each been shown to be influenced by the learning environment and to impact student performance. However, little research has been done to explore the interaction between these constructs. Exploring the interaction between these different constructs across multiple learning contexts will allow the researchers to further explore these relationships to find ways to encourage improved learner performance.

Five research questions are being studied for this project, which are listed here: 1) How do psychological characteristics of learners, including mindset, self-efficacy, and metacognition affect performance in the online course modules? 2) How do the learners’ demographic characteristics, such as gender, prior knowledge, and educational background affect performance? 3) What is the interaction among the psychological characteristics and demographic characteristics of learners that affect performance? 4) How do the psychological characteristics and their inter-relationships (mindset, self-efficacy, and metacognition) differ across the four learning settings? 5) How do the learners’ demographic and psychological characteristics affect their preferences and navigation patterns (i.e. preferences for specific types of assignments and course behaviors) with the various course design elements (i.e. less challenging versus more challenging assignments, reflection activities)?

Our research design will utilize existing survey instruments with validity evidence from educational psychology as well as the development of new instruments. Newly created instruments will follow test development procedures identified in the most recent Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (APA, AERA, NCME, 2014).

The work-in-progress paper will describe the research design and progress to date, with a literature review grounding the work in psychology and social sciences research. The work-in-progress format for this paper will be ideal, as the authors would like to receive feedback from the engineering education community on the research questions, interventions and study design.

Zappe, S. E., & Cutler, S., & Spiegel, S., & Jordan, D., & Vasquez, A. C. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Investigation of the Psychological and Demographic Characteristics that Impact Performance in Online Modules and Courses Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38176

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