2003 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
FACULTY INTERVENTIONS TO IMPROVE LEARNING OUTCOMES THROUGH COMPUTER CONFERENCING
Ellen A. Becker, PhD, RRT-NPS, AE-C, and Ellen M. Godwin, PT, MS, PCS, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY.
Background: This study evaluated the impact of enhanced student support and feedback on health profession students' learning through an interdisciplinary computer conferencing module.
Methods: Interdisciplinary teams comprised of occupational therapy, physical therapy, and respiratory care students participated in a computer conferencing module that contained all instructions and resources on the Internet. Several faculty monitored teams of 4-5 students and provided weekly written feedback. Outcomes from the first module were compared to an enhanced module that added more student technical support, weekly grades, and a print-based study guide that repeated instructions and resources. Two researchers independently recorded the number of messages each student posted for each lesson's time frame and assigned codes for faculty message content; introductory, reinforcement, technical information, restate assignment, vague feedback, professional expertise, give direction, and response to question. The researchers compared their codes and established a consensus. A t-test compared the difference in students' pre- and post-Interdisciplinary Education Perception Scale (IEPS) beliefs between modules. Fisher's Exact Test was used to compare the total student postings, total faculty postings/team, and faculty message content between modules using the aggregate median to determine categories. An α = 0.05 was considered significant.
RESULTS: Compared to the first, the enhanced module had greater IEPS belief changes, more faculty messages/team, however no difference in total student postings. Students in the enhanced module showed greater changes in beliefs that their profession was positive about their contributions, needed to cooperate with others, had good relations with other professions, was well-trained, and did not have a higher status than other professions. Faculty messages in the enhanced module contained fewer vague messages and more messages containing introductions, re-stated assignments, reinforcement, and technical information.
Conclusions: Providing students with more technical support, weekly grades, a print-based study guide, and enhanced written feedback positively impacted students' online interdisciplinary learning experience. Written feedback that restates assignments and contains reinforcement, introductions, and technical information improved online learning outcomes.