OER1109 Oral Presentation pdf

Wednesday 11 May 16.20 Breakout Room 6

How and for whom does accelerated learning work? The case of the Open Learning Initiative course "Logic & Proofs"

Christian D. Schunn, Melisa M. Patchan, University of Pittsburgh
Wilfried Sieg, Dawn McLaughlin, Carnegie Mellon University

Conference Theme: Academic practice and digital scholarship

Abstract: There are many ways in which online learning environments can relate to traditional textbook and face-to-face instruction, ranging from complete replacement to hybrid instruction in which face-to-face instruction supplements online instruction in a synergistic fashion, with different general models of online and hybrid instruction being explored by different institutions (e.g. MIT vs. OU vs. CMU). In the context of an online environment for teaching symbolic logic (CMU's Open Learning Initiative course Logic & Proofs), we tested the hypothesis that use of the online environment in a hybrid instructional mode can lead to accelerated learning (more content in the same amount of time or the same content in less time). Importantly, we explored how the setting (especially instructor and student types) moderate the effects because there are likely different relative strengths and weaknesses of online vs. face-to-face instruction across contexts. First, two studies were conducted at a large public tier-one institution in a very large lecture course, showing that online-only instruction produced equivalent learning outcomes to face-to-face instruction using a highly respected textbook. In addition, online instruction appeared to result in a much lowered attrition rate (in contrast to some other findings in the literature), providing efficiencies for students of a different form. Second, experiments concerning accelerated learning were conducted at three institutions, each representing a different type of institution; we used different forms of acceleration and evaluation logics suited to the context (e.g., random assignment to condition vs. natural experiment, more content in equal time vs. equal content in less time). Students at a community college were able to learn significantly more content and some content to higher performance levels using hybrid instruction compared with face-to-face instruction. Commuter students at a regional campus of a public university signing up for online instruction were resistant to participating in hybrid instruction and there was not a clear association between the amount of hybrid instruction and student learning. Traditional students from primarily computer science and engineering backgrounds at a national university actually showed small but significant declines in exam performance with hybrid instruction relative to face-to-face instruction, likely reflecting the teaching costs associated with a shift from a highly practiced process to a novel process. The generality of the results for other approaches to online and hybrid instruction will be discussed.

Keywords: Accelerated learning; contextual differences; sustainability


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