Page 1

Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 1

Advantages of using Asynchronous Online Courses by Incoming College Freshmen

Anthony J Blusius Jr. Master of Instructional Technology Program Bloomsburg University

June 2007


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 2

Abstract The purpose of this study was to determine the effect asynchronous online course offerings had on college students. Online course instruction is a growing trend in the educational industry. Two groups of thirty college students taking English Composition 1 were selected. One group was in a traditional setting while the other group, which was the experimental group, was using the Blackboard learning management system. Both groups received the same instruction from the same instructor. After the experiment concluded, student responses were collected and were compared with the students’ final exam score.


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 3

Advantages of using Asynchronous Online Courses by Incoming College Freshmen Introduction Technology-based education is prevalent is today’s society. Currently there are 22 states that have established virtual schools with an estimated nine percent of all school students enrolled in some type of distance education (US Department of Education, n.d.). It is predicted that over time these numbers will only increase. Only 56% of all post secondary institutions (Title IV-eligible) offer courses through some kind of online-based system (US Department of Education, n.d.). There are many advantages of using online courses, in particular, asynchronous online courses. One advantage is that students need to participate more than in a traditional classroom allowing students to become more involved in class. Students can also take part in a class whenever they wish, without the alarm clock reminding them that it is time for class (O'Dwyer, Carev, & Kleiman, 2007). Online participation is as effective as a traditional setting. Students are now required to do more than “walking to class and sitting on a chair” (Vonderwell, Liang, & Alderman, p. 318, 2007). One first time offering of an asynchronous course yielded over 350 links for the course’s resource page (Burmeister, n.d.). There is less implementation of these methods at a post-secondary level versus that of a K-12 level. Over 520,000 high school students were enrolled in online courses in 2005, allowing school districts to offer more diverse courses with the majority of these courses in rural areas (Thomas, 2007). This research will seek to examine the positive aspects for students enrolled in an asynchronous online course. Statement of the Problem


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 4

The purpose of this study is to examine the advantages of using asynchronous online courses by incoming college freshmen in an English composition course. Asynchronous is defined as “not occurring at the same time” (Lexico Publishing Group, LLC.). This means that students are not all receiving instruction at a given period of time. Review of Related Literature The use of asynchronous courses allows students to collaborate in ways that are not possible in a traditional setting. The myth that partaking in courses online hampers or limits one student’s interaction with another is just that, a myth. Professor McCook (n.d.) learned first hand about the positive student interaction outcomes in her first online course. When students were left to communicate through the Discussion Board located in their university’s Blackboard system, she found that within the ten weeks of the course students in various topics made over 4,000 posts. Two hundred of these postings alone occurred within the first week of class (Burmeister, n.d.). This level of interaction would not have been possible in a traditional brick and mortar environment. Students were communicating and collaborating at a pace unseen before. New topics of discussion were created as needed, allowing the professor to help the students organize their thoughts (Burmeister, n.d.). Time is another key factor of asynchronous courses. No longer are students and professors limited by time. This also allows members of our armed services to continue their course of study while on deployment. Recently students deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait were able to continue pursuing their degrees (Servonsky, Daniels, & Davis). This is just one example of active learning in different geographic locations where the true challenge was “for the faculty is to allow students to learn” (Servonsky, 2005, p. 134).


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 5

A study conducted in 2001 found that 88% of colleges planned to start offering or increase their current offerings in asynchronous instruction (DeNeui, & Dodge, 2006). The overall effect of these new trends on traditional settings is still unknown due to relatively little research. In a hybrid environment, which consists of a traditional setting and asynchronous methods, post-secondary students who participated in both had higher scores on exams (DeNeui). Another trend among colleges and universities is the transition to open source software suites. These applications feature lower annual costs per year. This is also known as the lower cost of ownership (Williams, 2007). One other advantage is that an organization can tailor the application to fit its needs, where in the case of commercial software, they are not able to do so. This allows the organization’s budget to be more effectively dispensed. Statement of the Hypothesis There are many advantages to learning and communicating via asynchronous methods. In this proposed research study, it is hypothesized that students who participate in asynchronous online learning environments will be able to access course materials in a greater variety of ways than in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting, allowing them to succeed at a greater rate. In this proposed research study it is hypothesized that college freshmen participating in English asynchronous online courses will be able to accelerate through the materials at a greater rate than in a traditional classroom setting. Methodology Participants Participants for the study will be incoming college freshmen at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. These college freshmen will be from the fall semester of the 2007


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 6

academic school year. All students will be taking English Composition 1 in their first semester. Dr. Keith Smith, Associate Professor at Bloomsburg University, will be the instructor for the course. Dr. Smith will be instructing two English Composition 1 classes for the 2007 academic school year. One section of 30 students will be in a traditional setting. The second section of 30 students will be in an online setting. Instrument The effectiveness of an asynchronous online course will be determined by comparing the student responses of the two groups of students along with their scores on the final exam. Each group of students will be administered a follow-up survey at the end of the semester. They will be asked to rate their overall experience in the course based on several categories. The students’ final exam will serve to determine that students did in fact accomplish all the criteria of the course. First, general demographic information will be collected from each student. The survey instrument will have four parts. This information will consist of the student’s gender, age range, ethnicity, and occupation. Household income information will also be collected with the participant choosing the income range that the household income falls within. The final item in this category will be information in regards to how readily available access to a computer and the internet are for each student. Second, student responses on the course materials will be collected using a Likert scale of 1 through 5 with the following anchors: a) 1 = strongly disagreed with the statement, b) 2 = disagreed with the statement, c) 3= neutral, d) 4= agreed with the statement and e) 5= strongly agreed with the statement. Students will rate the quality of such items as the textbook accompanying the course, the lectures the instructor has given, and the exams given throughout


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 7

the course. Data from this survey section will be used to determine the students’ thoughts on the instructional materials and whether these were appropriate for the course. Third, evaluation data on the quality of the instructor will be collected using a Likert scale of 1 through 5 with the following anchors: a) 1 = strongly disagreed with the statement, b) 2 = disagreed with the statement, c) 3= neutral, d) 4= agreed with the statement and e) 5= strongly agreed with the statement. These statements will directly relate to the instructor’s effectiveness during the course. Students will rate such items as the clarity of the instruction, pace of instruction, and the ability to communicate with the instructor. This section is meant to determine the instructor’s effectiveness to communicate with the students. The final section of the survey will be a free response section, providing an opportunity for students to elaborate on their previous answers in the survey. Students will be asked to explain the rationale for their ratings of the instruction and the instructor. Finally, the students will be solicited to provide additional comments on other topics of interest or concern. Design A mixed research design, a combination of a quasi-experimental method and a quantitative questionnaire, will be implemented to investigate the effectiveness of a freshmen English course taught in a traditional approach as compared to the same course taught asynchronously online using Blackboard. A total of 60 students will participate in the study. Dr. Smith, who has taught several online courses in the past and currently serves as the chair of Bloomsburg University’s English department, will be the instructor for both classes. One class of 30 students will receive the traditional instruction. This class, the control group, will receive all lectures, assignments, and other instructional materials in a traditional classroom setting. These students will not have access to any electronic course materials. The second class will


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 8

receive instruction as an asynchronous course taught through the university’s Blackboard learning management system. The students in this class, the experimental group, will have the same lectures, assignments, and other instructional materials as the traditional class but through Blackboard. Procedure At the beginning of the 2007 academic school year, the instructor will select one section of English Composition 1 in a traditional classroom setting. This will be the control group. The instructor will then select one section of English Composition 1 that meets online. This will be the experimental group. This is to insure that no student or group has any knowledge about being selected for the experiment. The control group of 30 students in the traditional classroom setting will have all instruction delivered within that setting. Students in the experimental group will have all instruction delivered within the university’s Blackboard system. The materials for the experimental group will be made electronically available to the students and they will not be required to attend class at a given time. Both classes will have the same assignments, requirements, and due dates. Students enrolled in the online course (experimental group) will complete the course at their own pace working through the class exercises and progress faster through the course materials than students in the traditional class. At the end of the semester in December, students will be surveyed and their final exam grades will be recorded. The week before the final exam students will be administered the survey. The survey will be administered to the control group in the classroom setting, while the experimental group will take the survey online via an Internet site. The survey will be administered the week before finals in order to insure that attitudes toward their grade will not


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 9

affect the survey results. The survey will gather student responses in regard to their experience in the course. There will be no differences in assignment or any other type of assessments. At the end of the course both classes will be administered the same comprehensive final examination. The instructor will prepare and then grade the examination. Data Analysis A mixed research design, a combination of a quasi-experimental method and a quantitative questionnaire, will be implemented to investigate the effectiveness of a freshmen English course taught in a traditional approach as compared to the same course taught asynchronously online using Blackboard. Therefore, data analysis will include descriptive statistics and experimental or inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyze the demographic information using frequencies for both the experimental and control groups. Information derived by the Likert scales (information on the course materials and the instructor) will be analyzed by obtaining the percentage of students who selected each of the available responses for that particular question and obtaining the mean and standard deviation for each Likert scale item. SPPS version 12 will be used to perform analysis of all descriptive statistics. Data analysis will occur for both the experimental and control groups. Content analysis will be conducted for the open-ended, free response section of the survey. The information for each one of these will be described followed by a thorough review by the researcher to determine themes and trends in the students’ responses. A comparison of the responses for both the experimental and control groups will be conducted, as well as a review of the data as a whole, to determine central themes and trends from the entire sampling group. NUD*IST version 6 will be used to analyze the responses.


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 10

Inferential statistics will be conducted to determine if students’ final exam scores for the online class (experimental group) and the traditional class (control group) are significantly different or equal. The t-test will be used to assess whether the two groups are statistically different. These tests will include final exam scores and demographic information. It is hypothesized that 44% of the experimental population will be content with the asynchronous instruction. Demographics are possible as an intervening variable. Accesses to the Internet, age, and household income are all considerations.


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 11

References Burmeister, M. L. (n.d.). A course in cultural heritage harnesses the power of the Internet. Florida Libraries, Special Issue, 48, 8-11. Retrieved June 7, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database. (Dr. Jones this is the one we spoke about.) DeNeui, D. L., & Dodge, T. L. (2006, December). Asynchronous learning networks and student outcomes: The utility of online learning components in hybrid courses. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 33, 4, 256-259. Retrieved June 7, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. (n.d.). Asynchronous. Retrieved June 10, 2007, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/asynchronous Munoz, K. D., & Van Duzer, J. (2005, February 15). A comparison of satisfaction with online teaching and learning tools. Retrieved June 20, 2007, from http://www.humboldt.edu/~jdv1/moodle/all.htm O'Dwyer, L. M., Carev, R., & Kleiman, G. (2007). A study of the effectiveness of the Louisiana algebra I online course. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39, 3, 289-307. Retrieved June 28, 2007 from ProQuest database. Servonsky, J. E., Daniels, L. W., & Davis, B. L. (2005, November). Evaluation of Blackboard as a platform for distance education delivery. Association of Black Nursing Faculty Journal, 16, 6, 132-135. Retrieved June 7, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database. Thomas, D. (2007). Accessibility and e-learning. E.learning Age, Jun, 12-15. Retrieved June 28, 2007 from ProQuest database. US Department of Education. (n.d.). Technology and No Child Left Behind. Retrieved June 10, 2007, from http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/fact-sheet.doc


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 12

Vonderwell, S., Liang, X., & Alderman, K. (2007). Asynchronous discussions and assessment in online learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39, 3, 309-329. Retrieved June 28, 2007 from ProQuest database. Williams Van Rooij, S. (2007). Perceptions of open source versus commercial software: Is higher education still on the fence?. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39, 4, 433-454. Retrieved June 28, 2007 from ProQuest database.


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 13

Appendix A Time Schedule August Select Participants Execute Study Posttest Data Analysis Write Report

September

October

November

December

January

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 14

Appendix B Survey of College Students’ Attitudes of Online and Traditional Settings

Background Information 1. What is your ethnicity? a. b. c. d. e.

Caucasian African American Native American / Inuit Asian / Oriental Other

2. What is your gender? a. Male b. Female 3. What is your age range? a. b. c. d. e.

18 or under 19-29 30-40 41-51 52+

4. Which of the following best describes your educational background? a. b. c. d. e. 5.

Did not finish high school High school graduate / GED Some college / current college student Associates degree Bachelor’s Degree or higher

What is your household income? a. b. c. d. e.

Under $25,000 $25,000 - $35,000 $36,000 - $46,000 $47,000 - $57,000 $58,000 or greater


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 15

Course Materials Please answer the following questions regarding the course materials using the following scale: 1 2 3 4 5

= strongly disagreed with the statement = disagreed with the statement = neutral = agreed with the statement = strongly agreed with the statement

1. The course text was clearly written. 1

2

3

4

5

2. The course assignments were clearly outlined. 1

2

3

4

5

3. The course examinations contained the correct degree of difficulty. 1

2

3

4

5

4. The course materials where readily available. 1

2

3

4

5

Instructor Please answer the following questions regarding the course materials using the following scale: 1 2 3 4 5

= strongly disagreed with the statement = disagreed with the statement = neutral = agreed with the statement = strongly agreed with the statement 1. The clarity of the lectures enhanced my understanding of the course materials.

1

2

3

4

5

2. The instructor communicated with me in a timely manner.

1

2

3

4

5


Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses 16 3. The pace of the instruction was satisfactory.

1

2

3

4

5

4. The instructor was adequately prepared for each class.

1

2

3

4

5

General Impressions Please elaborate on your responses in the course materials section. Please indicate why you chose a specific answer for the questions. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Please elaborate on your responses in the instructor section. Please indicate why you chose a specific answer for the questions. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Are there any additional items that you wish to add? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Advantages of Asynchronous Online Courses  

This is a research plan I prepared to study the advantages of using online courses.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you