The on-line classroom for adult learners: an examination of teaching style and gender equity
Bachman, Howard Floyd
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Two major questions guide this study: How are different on-line teaching styles related to classroom participation; does the on-line classroom generate a more gender-neutral environment? The data source for this study was a classroom instruction and performance program at a mid-size university in the Northwest. Included in this study were 59 students (38 males and 21 females) with 75 separate course records from six classes. Each academic discussion conference transcript was coded by message to record message traffic flow for each instructor and student. There were four actions that instructors used that influenced the participation performances of their class. The organization of the conferences influenced participation performance. The two discussion conference model out performed the single conference model in message traffic. Instructor guidance, which was issued by message, had a profound affect on student performance. Although each instructor assigned a percent of the final grade based on participation, this guidance appears to have been relegated low on the students' priority. Guidance given in a prepared syllabus which the students received both in paper and electronic form did not have the same impact as a personal instructor message. At the start of the study, it was assumed the instructors would provide most of the on-line encouragement to students to participate. During the coding process it became obvious that fellow students provided most of the positive social encouragement to participate. Not only did these students conduct student-centered discussions but they also self-motivated the group to participate more. Does the on-line classroom foster a more gender-neutral environment? The results of this study are mixed, but very encouraging. There was no flaming or questionable innuendoes detected in any of the messages. The t-tests did not show a significant difference between male and female participation performance except for length of message. Females were encouraged by their peers to participate and their messages were valued. Since one did not have to wait a turn to speak in these on-line classrooms, there was more air time for all. In these on-line courses the verbose did not silence the rest.
- Doctoral Dissertations