Sample Essay on Methods for Improving Online Instruction at UMUC

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Dear Sir/Madam,

I am pleased to present to you the findings of the report on how to improve online instructions at UMUC.

The findings of the report are as follows:

  1. Immediate feedback to students makes it easier for students to develop an interest in enhancing their competencies in critical analysis and reading comprehension.
  2. There is a significant difference between instruction-based learning and face-to-face learning, even though the latter has improved with time.
  3. Online instructions do not have ideal effects on interpersonal skills; thus, their costs of investment should be considered.
  4. The gaming approach promoted learning attitudes, flow of experience, learning interest, and technology acceptance.

The report outlines the problems faced by UMUC students, the reasons why the research was conducted, and the possible means and ways that can be used to improve online learning instructions. It analyses the differences that lie between online and face-to-face teaching, behavior presentation in interpersonal skills, and reasons why adoption of the gaming approach is efficient in improving online learning.

In presenting this research, I acknowledge the efforts of the instructors and students of UMUC, who were committed and dedicated in providing the information used to compile this report.

Thanks for consideration and time.

Yours sincerely,

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Table of contents

Contents

Abstract 5

Introduction. 5

Problem statement 6

Purpose and scope of work. 6

Evaluating face to face and online learning modes. 7

Behavior presentation in interpersonal skills. 9

Using the gaming approach. 10

III. Decision makers. 11

Data collection methods and sources. 12

Conclusion. 13

Recommendations. 13

Abstract

This study aims at improving online instructions at UMUC following the constant complains by students concerning their poor performance levels. It analyses the differences between online learning methods as well as face-to-face learning in an effort to ascertain the areas that need to be upgraded. It also seeks to find ways that will make online instructions more interesting for both the students and teachers using online learning. The outcomes of this study are beneficial to the management, the teachers, and the students of UMUC; the teachers will benefit from increased performance levels from their students, and the management will be privileged to have achieved the goal of educating the public. The students will also be advantaged to have better problem-solving skills, improved research skills, and ultimately increased performances in school.

Introduction

Education is paramount in every aspect of our lives because knowledge is often the stepping-stone to an individual’s success. We often pay huge sums of money to get admitted in various levels of education with the common goal being to learn. Currently, technology has made learning much easier. The use of e-learning or teleconferencing has had considerable reception in the learning sector. This means that we do not necessarily have to attend lectures physically in a classroom to face a lecturer. We can still get to attend these classes in virtual forums involving online learning.

Frimming (2013) explains that the number of distant learners pursuing higher education is gradually increasing. He says that 30% of students pursuing higher education have at least one course that they undertake using online strategies. 63% of academic leaders also report that online learning is an important factor when looking at their long-term strategic goals of providing degree-granting programs to provide educational opportunities for students who cannot, or choose not to, attend classes in campus and training programs for economic development.

However, this aspect has not been very successful for UMUC students. Majority of the students have related their poor performance levels to the inadequacies of the online instruction platform in the institution. Lack of feedback and poor learning methods have been cited severally as the reasons why many students prefer having face-to-face classes, compared with online learning. This research aims at seeking methods that can improve online instructions at UMUC

Problem statement

The students of UMUC face the problem of ineffective student teacher dialogue when using online instructions. For this reason, their performance is crippled because there are no appropriate means that ensure that students get access to proper online instructions.

Purpose and scope of work

There are several reasons behind this research; firstly, it aims at understanding the performance levels between face-to-face and online modes of learning. Under this objective, we find out the elements that are present in each mode of learning that are necessary for effective learning and communication between teachers and students. We also get to understand the differences between online learning and face-to-face learning, as well as what needs to be improved in order to achieve similar results.

Secondly, this research helps us understand and identify the most efficient model of behavior presentation aimed at imparting personal skills in online environments. This is important as it helps institutions be able to realize whether investing in models such as cognitive retention and behavioral reproduction is worthy. Finally, this research aimed at finding the effects of using a game as part of online research.

Evaluating face to face and online learning modes

A study done by Carle (2009) suggests that college students rating of teaching effectiveness across time and instruction mode showed little improvement across time. The professors who received high ratings at the beginning of the study showed the same rating at the end of the study. Those who were ranked lowly still had low rankings at the end of the study, although some indicated some positive and reliable growth. Instructors also gained higher rankings through experience.

Change that occurred was in linear mode. Individual professors taught different classes across different levels, but tended to receive similar rating s across their classes. Those who had low ratings at the beginning improved most rapidly than those who started by having higher ratings. Changes in professors using either online or face to face models showed that followed similar patterns Carle (2009).

In face-to-face and online teaching modes, sex, discipline, tenure status and course level failed to predict student ratings of a professor’s effectiveness. In face-to-face classes, minority status proved a statistically significant predictor of mean SETE difference and showed relatively moderately sized effect. Minority professors received SETES -0.4 points lower than the majority (white). Majority and minority instructors SETEs displayed similar rates of change they both had little growth. The differences between these groups persisted across the study. This finding was consistent across numerous majority/minority based comparisons. In online classes SETEs did not differ across majority and minority professors.  In online classes, a professor’s ethnic status did not influence students’ ratings of a professors teaching effectiveness.

The domain of perceived similarity and self-effectiveness explains that individuals trust, appreciate, aid and listen to others they regard similarly to themselves. Individuals who perceive themselves as similar will simultaneously like and support each other. When individual perceive each other to be dissimilar opposite will occur. When students perceive themselves to be similar to their instructor the model functions more efficiently thus the reason why students who perceive teachers more like themselves will rate them highly. Increased support from teachers will lead to effective teaching. The same applies to teacher; if they perceive students to be more like themselves, they will teach better compared to when they perceive student to be dissimilar to them. The fact that online instructors did not receive poorer ratings suggests that online classes may function more impartially Carle (2009).

A comparison done by Thompson, Miller and Franz  (2013) indicates that despite the fact that there are many similarities between online and  face to face learning experiences, there are unique challenges to online learning. Most times online programs are dominated by nontraditional students with multiple competing demands on their free times including families and other job responsibilities. This can cause higher attrition of students in online programs that those taught face to face. Limited learning outcomes differences have been found between online and face-to-face instruction. Research examining learning differences between online and face-to-face college students found significant differences did not exist between delivery formats.

Furthermore, student participants from an online instruction group either agreed or strongly agreed that they felt comfortable in an online learning environment. The work of teachers in online and face-to-face learning settings focused on content area, student and teacher interaction and design. There is no major difference   in the responsibilities of either an online or face-to-face instructor, if there were any differences they are linked to teacher involvement and institutional commitment.

Moreover, Thompson, Miller and Franz (2013) say that research done to compare performance between online learning and campus based learning indicates that the ratings of online supported programs were consistently higher than those for selected campus based program and the system as a whole. Reports of success suggest that a well established online teacher preparation can be as effective or more effective as campus based program and should be considered in preparing teacher candidates to meet current and future challenges.

Further on, Frimming (2013) reveals that a study conducted by Neumann and Shachar found that two thirds of the studies showed that online students performed better than participants in face-to-face course. Students of in the online learning group and the hybrid had statistically significant higher levels of achievement than students in the face-to-face group.

 Behavior presentation in interpersonal skills

Doo (2005) carried out a study to determine the best model to be used in presentation in behavior modeling that was focused at teaching interpersonal skills in online environments. She used four online formats that included pictures, audio, video, text script and audio only. The effects of these models were then investigated by comparing the learning outcomes that were put to test by the use of cognitive retention of the content learned, reaction of learners and behavioral reproduction.

The outcomes did not show any considerable differences thus the reason why model schools should use model presentation formats that are cost effective when teaching interpersonal skills using behavior modeling. From this study, we learn that online instructions do not have much effect in interpersonal skills thus their cost of investments should be considered.  Investing in very expensive online instruction models does not guarantee better interpersonal skills. They all have similar if not equal performance rates.

 Using the gaming approach

The use of learning supports for web-based problem solving activities have been recommended by several researchers who  view it as means to enhancing problem solving activities, to enhance learning performance of students  and at the same time engage them in an enjoyable learning process.  Games engage players in enjoyable activities by following set rules to accomplish particular tasks. For this reason, researchers have resorted to developing a number of educational games for disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, and language. Their findings have been that well designed computer educational game would provide a wealthy resource-learning platform with challenging missions to foster the higher order knowledge skills of students. They have also found out that proper integration of learning content and   strategies into games would improve the student’s learning performance at the same time maintaining the enjoyable nature of the games.

Employing educational computer games helps students improve their learning performance. For instance, digital games are vital in developing the children’s cognition and social processes; they also enhance the learning interests of students and their leaning motivation. An integration of game elements, PBL methods and 3D communication tools in a web based learning environment for an introductory computing course showed several positive findings. These included technology skills gained, understanding the role that interpersonal communications play in learning an in career success, the sense of usefulness in accessing resource, the willingness to explore and experiment in such a learning environment. An investigation of the effectiveness of a web based educational game on students problem solving and academic achievement shows that the gaming strategy was helpful to the students in promoting their problem solving skills and no significant improvement was found in terms of learning achievement.

Investigation to find out the factors affecting the effectiveness of online gamed based learning would include factors affecting learner’s motivations in terms of single player/ multiplayer reference and online/offline game participation. Under this aspect, the challenge is the top ranking motivation for some computer games. Multiplayer and online learners ranked completion, cooperation and recognition is significantly more important for playing games than single players and offline participants. Effects of collaborative and single player conditions on competence content learning and science self-efficacy shows that student’s science content learning and self-efficacy significantly increases while no significant difference were found between the two gaming conditions.

Results from previous computer educational games show that the games not only improved the student’s learning achievement and attitudes, but also placed them in a learning state with full involvement, concentration, and enjoyment. An analysis of the students learning and interests and technology acceptance further showed that most of them enjoyed the learning activity and felt that the online gaming approach was helpful to them in improving their learning performance in terms of user friendliness and its usefulness the students intrinsic motivations were promoted and they are highly engaged in the tasks.

III. Decision makers

This report calls the attention of various decision makers at UMUC such as the Board of Governors, trustees and instructors.  The Board of Governors has the sole responsibility if ensuring that learning is smooth and effective at UMUC. The suggestions given in this report will improve online learning in this institution, which will go a long way in ensuring that students perform well and that the teachers are able to communicate effectively. Instructors should also consider the findings of this report in making decisions on how best they can improve their teaching skills via online learning such as implementation the gaming approach. The trustees could also use the findings of this report to make their goal of administering the best interest of the beneficiaries (the students), easily achievable. The outcomes outlined in this report should enable the decision makers to make the desirable decisions or to suggest other possible ways of increasing online instructions at UMUC based on the research given.

Data collection methods and sources

Data was collected using questionnaires, written assignments, reading journals and databases. A tool known as Moodle was used to facilitate immediate feedback and students self- assessments. It also encouraged interaction between instructors and students as a way of discussion. Immediate feedback to students made it easier for students to develop an interest in enhancing their competencies in critical analysis and reading comprehension (Borham-Puyal & Susana, 2011). Multilevel modeling method was used to evaluate the performance levels between face-to-face and online modes of learning. The case study examined 1120 instructors in the classes they teach to check if their effectiveness improved with time as well as check the difference of the data obtained for face-to-face effectiveness and online instructions (Carle, 2009). Identifying the most efficient model of behavior presentation were measured using cognitive retention of content learned, reaction of learners, and behavioral reproduction (Doo, 2005). The study indicated that online instructions do not have so much effect in interpersonal skill. The gaming approach used an online developed game. A move was determined by dice throwing, where each location of the board corresponds to a task like information searching questions. These were later used to guide participants in gathering information to answer a series of questions in relation to the learning subject.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is evident that improvement of online instructions goes a long way in affecting the performance of students. A slight problem in the nature of the online instructions will negatively affect the performance of the students. It is therefore important that the necessary changes should be done on the online instructions at UMUC in order to achieve student and teacher satisfaction.

Recommendations

The management of UMUC should consider the following factors in taking considerable measures to improve online instructions;

  1. Allow immediate  feedback for both the students and teachers
  2. Teachers/instructors should improve on the levels of contact with their students to increase performance.
  3. The management should minimize costs when purchasing online instructions modes.
  4. The management should consider embracing the gaming approach in online learnin

References

Borham-Puyal, M., & Susana, O. (2011). Improving the use of feedback in an online teaching learning environment. US-China Foreign Language, 9 (6), 371-382.

Carle, A. C. (2009). Evaluating college students’ evaluations of a professor’s teaching effectiveness across time and instruction mode (online vs. face-to-face) using a multilevel growth modeling approach. Computers and Education, 53(2), 429-435.

Doo, M. Y. (2005). The effects of presentation format for behavior modeling of interpersonal skills in online instruction. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 14 (3), 213-235.

Frimming, R. E., Bower, G. G., & Chulhwan, C. (2013). Examination of a Physical Education Personal Health Science Course: Face-to-Face Classroom Compared to Online Hybrid Instruction. Physical Educator, 70(4), 359-373.

Hwang, G., Wu, P., & Chen, C. (2012). An online game approach for improving students’ learning performance in web-based problem-solving activities. Computers and Education, 59(4), 1246-1256.

Thompson, N. L., Miller, N. C., & Franz, D. P. (2013). Comparing Online and Face-To-Face Learning Experiences for Nontraditional Students. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 14(4), 233-251.