Date of Award

1999

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling

First Advisor

Susan K. MacGregor

Abstract

This qualitative case study examined interactions, the effect of instructional strategies on interactions, participant attitudes, and perceptions that occurred during two courses taught via interactive videoconferencing in higher education. Analysis of coded observational data, field notes, and interviews with students and instructors provided insights about the distance learning environment. Using an interaction model, the classroom interactions were grouped into the following categories: (a) learner-content, (b) learner-instructor, (c) learner-learner, and (d) learner-interface. Results showed that learner-instructor and learner-learner interactions were highest during classes which were organized as discussion sessions with specific guidelines for the content and the nature of questions on which the dialog would focus. Several questions on which the dialog would focus. Several instructor strategies appeared to increase interactions with the students at the remote site. Statements of praise and acceptance of student ideas and the use of questions that required the learners to synthesize and draw conclusions rather than simply recall information were effective in soliciting responses. Humanizing the students' learning experiences by using their names and relevant personal experiences increased participation. Use of visual realia and well-designed textual visuals provided a scaffold for connecting the students with course content and facilitated dialog. A strategy that proved to be minimal in effectiveness was the use of peer presentations. During these presentations, fewer interactions occurred and more off-task behaviors were observed. A major determinant of effectiveness in the distance learning classroom is the expertise of the instructor to present content information and elicit student participation. Learner-instructor interactions were impaired by limitations of the technology. Students at the remote site reported feelings of isolation when excluded from informal conversations at the local site. Both instructors and students indicated that the technology created a barrier to spontaneity and the ability to read facial expressions and other physical cues. A mediator located at one remote site helped reduce transactional distance by manipulating the cameras and helping learners to interface with the technology. This assistance allowed the instructor to focus more attention on teaching and engaging students with content information. Additionally, the mediator facilitated student participation through modeling and encouragement.

ISBN

9780599252264

Pages

266

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