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[Fall Workshop 2023] Student Learning Experience During the Covid 19 Pandemic: Implications for Learning Design

Friday November 10, 9:35 – 10:00

Session Description

As we leave the COVID-19 pandemic behind, studying student experiences during that special period will help us learn what course design approaches and teaching strategies improve students’ online learning. This study reports on the survey results of 351 students at a polytechnic institute in Canada. The questionnaire invited students to rate the helpfulness of 13 commonly used course components, identify the most challenging aspect of remote learning, and provide feedback regarding the three presences of Community of Inquiry (CoI).

The five top rated course components were assignments, labs/shops, video recordings of live sessions, live sessions, and self-quizzes. Except for video recordings, the other four components provided feedback on student performance; except for live sessions, the remaining components allowed students time to learn and review, which in turn fosters deeper learning. Three interaction channels (small group discussions, forum discussions and office hours) were rated lowest, indicating that live sessions somewhat satisfied students’ need for interactions with peers and instructors.

The top two most challenging aspects identified were “level of motivation” and “feelings of stress”, rather than “quality of instruction” and “issues with learning technologies”. The most common challenge for students who started their education at the institute before the pandemic was “level of motivation”. For students who started their education during the pandemic, the most common challenge was “time management”. It appears that the unexpected change in delivery mode has affected more the motivation of students who already had experience taking in-person courses at the institute.

The ratings for CoI were: Teaching presence 3.62, Social presence 3.42, and Cognitive presence 3.59 (α >.90). Four top rated sub-categories were Design and Organization 3.94, Resolution 3.82, Integration 3.67, and Open Communication 3.62. The ratings of CoI subcategories showed consistent trends across different student groups. The most significant difference in CoI subcategories ratings was between students who self-organized in study groups and those who did not. There was a progression in rating of the Cognitive presence subcategories, suggesting that strategies to motivate and engage students, or activate their prior knowledge for problem solving, as well as effective exploration could have played an important role for student success. The data also suggest that more effort is needed to invest in facilitating learning activities, providing feedback, and enhancing channels for social interactions and sharing ideas/opinions to motivate students.

The correlation coefficients (Pearson r) between most course components and the CoI presences are low to moderate, but significant. Among relationships with r >.35, assignments, group projects, and live sessions are more correlated with the Teaching and Cognitive presences; tests/exams are more correlated with the Teaching presence. The data suggest the helpfulness of some course components relied on design, clear instructions, and knowledge application. Also, three top rated components show low (r<.30) or non-significant correlation with the CoI presences, indicating that the best practice of learning and teaching in our polytechnic institute during the pandemic only partially aligned with the CoI framework.

Recording and Materials

Files and links.