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AERA 2010 - Teacher-Student Interaction in a State-Led Virtual High School
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AERA 2010 - Teacher-Student Interaction in a State-Led Virtual High School

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Hawkins, A., Graham, C., & Barbour, M. K. (2010, April). Teacher-student interaction in a state-led virtual high school. A paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research ...

Hawkins, A., Graham, C., & Barbour, M. K. (2010, April). Teacher-student interaction in a state-led virtual high school. A paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO.

This study investigates teacher-student interaction in a large, state-led virtual high school. A sample of 15,000 student are surveyed to examine their perceptions of the quality and frequency of instructional, procedural, and social interactions and how these correlate with student academic achievement and course progress. Interviews of select teachers with high and low completion rates explore attitudinal and behavioral differences exhibited between the two groups in relation to teacher-student interaction. Findings from this study can be used to identify best-practices for use in professional development programs and improve interactivity for K-12 online teachers and students.

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  • A growing phenomenon in K-12 education is virtual schooling, primary and secondary education offered through Internet or Web-based methods (Clark, 2001). In 1997, only two states had virtual schools. Eleven years later, 44 states offer significant online learning opportunities for students (Watson, Gemin, & Ryan, 2008). Historically virtual schooling had served college-bound, highly motivated students. Today’s estimated 1,030,000 K-12 students are increasingly diverse with many seeking to recover credits as opposed to those wanting to accelerate graduation. More full time programs, as opposed to the traditional supplemental alternatives, are being developed.There is Virtual schooling is gaining ground as a viable choice in an increasingly diverse educational landscape.
  • A significant and well-documented problem in K12 online education is student attrition, with estimates ranging widely due to differences in how course completions are calculated.While there are multiple factors that contribute to student attrition, one factor that may be central to student success in virtual schools is teacher-student interaction.
  • Utah’s electronic high school is one of 8 virtual schools in Utah and is the only state-led virtual high school operating out of Utah’s State Office of Education. It is one of the oldest and largest virtual schools in the nation according to their CELT 2009 evaluation.Policy Changes:EHS recently underwent several policy changes that have impacted their attrition rates. These include students being dropped automatically after 30 days of inactivity where inactivity is defined as not submitting a graded assignment. And students have six months to complete the course after which they are dropped (but can re-enroll and be put back into the course where they left off if they make the request).EHS has high enrollment and attrition and this may be caused by several factors including high student to teacher ratios, a policy where no failing grades are awarded so students do not worry about withdrawing or dropping out as it won’t impact their transcript, and there is no registration fee so students can sign up and there is no skin off their back for enrolling and not engaging.
  • Policy Changes:EHS recently underwent several policy changes that have impacted their attrition rates. These include students being dropped automatically after 30 days of inactivity where inactivity is defined as not submitting a graded assignment. And students have six months to complete the course after which they are dropped (but can re-enroll and be put back into the course where they left off if they make the request).EHS has high enrollment and attrition and this may be caused by several factors including high student to teacher ratios, a policy where no failing grades are awarded so students do not worry about withdrawing or dropping out as it won’t impact their transcript, and there is no registration fee so students can sign up and there is no skin off their back for enrolling and not engaging.
  • We focused our study on teacher-student interaction for several reasons:It is central to many distance education theories including Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance (1973), Short, William, and Christy’s (1976) Social Presence Theory, and Holmberg’s (2007)Teaching-Learning Conversations. Unlike student disposition factors, teacher interaction is something within the institutions’ control. They can create policies and professional development practices to support teacher development in interaction and engagement with students.Research in higher education supports the importance of teacher-student interactionAnd it works within the research setting context where EHS has ONLY teacher-student interaction and no student-student interaction.
  • Their reasons for enrollment were varied. However freeing up space and credit recover were about the most frequently cited reasons.
  • For the question, when I had difficulty understanding the class policies and procedures, I could get help. There was a about a 10% point difference between completers and non completers in terms of feeling like they could get help.This was significant at the .000 level and had a practical significance, or Eta of .137. This question was also significant for students based on their final grade.Possible implications of this is that non-completers perceived that they had a hard time getting help to be able to understand the policies and procedures of the course in comparison with completers. This may be because struggling students have poorer help seeking strategies than more successful students. It also may be reflective that the logistical problems are acting as barriers to actual student progress and these should be anticipated and assumed as the problem instead of waiting for the student to approach the instructor.
  • The lack of engagement may actually be a function of a sense of comfort, connectedness, and community as opposed to content difficulty. The interviews which follow indicate that virtually all of the interactions were over the content as opposed to being more social in nature and the majority of these interactions were student initiated.Teaching is a relationship enterprise. Students may be more likely to ask for help from teachers if they know who teachers are and have positive relationship with teacher.
  • Teachers reported that they wished that there were more ways that they could communicate synchronously and more immediately with their students. However, when pressed as to how they could accomplish this, they were limited in their responses and resorted to chat office hours. One option is for teachers to understand and create asynchronous video, again to create that higher fidelity experience.Teachers demonstrated psychological barriers to the possibility of more rich interactions. All felt hat virtual interactions would never be the same as fact-to-face interactions and that “knowing” your students was impossible. Few, if any, articulated the power of feedback as individualized instruction and the benefits of off loading the lecture time to supplement it with the one-on-one tutorial/feedback time. Nearly all articulated that the burden of interaction rests with the student and that it is their role to initiate the exchange. These mindsets may make it difficult to for teachers to effectively interact their their students. If students have this same mindset, that it is the teacher’s role to initiate contact, then what happens?Finally, there are several institutional barriers to interaction which include the sheer volume of students which prevents teachers from being proactive and reaching out to student and instead puts them in a position of being reactive to students because of management constraints. There is almost an incentive to not engage with students as this would reduce your already exponential load. Also the rolling enrollment model prevents a teacher from having peers help peers and interact. Thus it puts all of the interaction burden on the teacher which can be daunting at best if you have a large class size.

AERA 2010 - Teacher-Student Interaction in a State-Led Virtual High School AERA 2010 - Teacher-Student Interaction in a State-Led Virtual High School Presentation Transcript

  • Teacher-Student Interactionin a State-led Virtual High SchoolAbigail Hawkins, Brigham Young UniversityMichael K. Barbour, Wayne State UniversityCharles R. Graham, Brigham YoungUniversity
  • U.S. Virtual Schooling Context Explosive growth  1997: 2 states in 2009: 46 (Watson, Gemin, Ryan, & Wicks 2009) Student body increasingly diverse (Barbour & Reeves, 2009; Watson, Gemin, & Ryan, 2008) Traditionally taken to supplement brick-and- mortar schooling. Growing as a full-time option. Viable choice in U.S. educational landscape
  • Virtual Schooling Challenge Attrition in K-12 online learning is aproblem. (Barbour & Reeves, 2009; Berge & Clark, 2005; Bigbie&McCarroll, 2000; Cavanaugh, Gillan, Bosnick, Hess, & Scott, 2005; McLeod, Hughes, Brown, Choi, & Maeda, 2005; Rice, 2006; Smith, Clark, &Blomeyer, 2005; Zucker&Kozma, 2003). Teacher – student interaction may be key to student success, as proven in higher education (Rice, 2006; Smith et al., 2005)
  • Purpose of Study What is the correlation between student perceptions of the quality and frequency of teacher-student interaction and student academic performance and progress in self- paced, asynchronous online secondary courses? How are are teachers’ reported interactions and perceptions of their role similar or different for courses with high and low completion rates?
  • Study Context>Utah’s Electronic HighSchool State-led virtual high school 1 of 8 virtual schools in Utah (Watson & Ryan, 2008) Oldest (est. 1994) and one of largest (2008 enrollments = 47,932) (CELT2005-2008 2009) Student Enrollments: Evaluation, 60000 50000# of students 47932 40000 Significant growth over 30000 time. 32065 20000 10000 4493 0 802 2005 2006 2007 2008 years
  • Study Context>Utah’s Electronic HighSchool Asynchronous, self- paced, supplemental, rolling-enrollment model  Virtually no peer-peer interaction 75 part-time teachers, 4 administrators, 92 unique courses, 11 disciplines Policy changes, Oct. 2007  30 days inactivity then automatically dropped  Six-month completion time
  • K-12 Teacher-Student Interactionin DE Why teacher-student interaction?  Central DE theory  Factor within institutions’ control  Fits EHS context Majority of interaction research in higher education
  • Mixed-Method ResearchDesignResearch Participants Data Collection Method ofQuestion Technique Analysis1. Correlation 36,791 18-item fixed Descriptivebetween student enrollments from response, cross- statistics, Crossperceived quality Feb. 1, 2008 – sectional survey. Tabulation, Mannand frequency of Jan 31, 2009 Student academic Whitneyinteraction and across all performance data.academic disciplines.performance.2. Teacher 6 teachers total: Semi-structured Thematic analysisreported 3 high telephone Cross-caseinteractions and completions interviews comparisonsperceived roles in 3 low completionshigh and low in English, Math,course completion Social Sciencerates
  • Results > Reason for Enrolling Reason for Enrollment Frequency Percent Space in schedule 454 40.2% Faster to complete 87 7.7% Class I failed 113 10.0% Graduate Early 95 8.4% Adult HS Diploma 16 1.4% Proceed at own pace 50 4.4% Easier than online 26 2.3% Special needs 63 5.6% Sounded interesting 53 4.7% 3.5% Other 113 10.0%respons Missing from System 29 2.6% e rate Total 1129 100%
  • Results >Procedural Q. Non Completers / Completers Q2. When I had difficulty understanding the class policies and procedures (e.g., turning in assignment, knowing what my current grade was, which assignments I needed to re-do, etc.), I could get help from my teacher. Cross Tabs Disagree Agree Strongly Agree Total Non Completer 120 233 257 610 % 19.7% 38.2% 42.1% 100% Completer 49 218 232 499 % 9.8% 43.7% 46.5% 100% Significant: Chi Square p= .000; Mann Whitney p = .004; Eta: .137; ABCD Possible Implications:  Non completers had a harder time getting help understanding policies and procedures than completers  Help seeking strategies likely poorer for non completers than completers  Logistical problems may prevent student progress.
  • Results >Feedback Q. Non Completers / Completers Q5. When I had difficulty understanding the class material, I could get help from my teacher. Cross Tabs Disagree Agree Strongly Agree Total Non 119 261 224 694 Completers 17.1% 37.6% 32.3% 100% % Completers 59 228 210 497 % 11.8% 45.8% 42.3% 100% Significant: Chi Square p= .002; Mann Whitney p = .005; Eta =.107; ABCD Possible Implications:  Twice as many non completers as completers had difficulty getting help.  Help not available? Not know how to access help?
  • Results >Social Interaction Q.ABCD, Non Completers Q10. I felt comfortable interacting with my teacher. Cross Tabs Disagree Agree Strongly Agree Total A 45 195 133 373 % 12.1% 52.3% 35.7% 100% B 23 54 24 101 % 22.8% 53.5% 23.8% 100% C 7 8 4 19 % 26.8% 42.1% 21.1% 100% D 1 1 2 4 % 25% 25% 50% 100% Non Completer 145 266 191 602 % 24.1% 47.7% 32.2% 100% Significance: Chi Square p =.000; Eta: .129; Non Completers/Completers, Non starters/ Starters
  • Results > ABCD, NonCompleters Q22. I felt comfortable interacting with my teacher. Possible Implications:  Lack of engagement = function of comfort/connection/community not content  EHS Teacher interview findings (n=8)  Virtually all interaction over content only  Communicate ONLY if initiated by student  Students may be more likely to ask for help from teachers if they know who teachers are and have positive relationship with teacher.
  • Results > Similarities on ReportedBehaviors Majority interactions instructional in nature  Gradeassignments and give feedback  Answer student-initiated questions via email  Exception: High Completion Geometry > via telephone 15% Few procedural interactions Majority of contact initiated by students
  • Results > Differences on ReportedBehaviorsHigh Completer Teachers Low Completer Teachers Some social interaction  Virtually no social (defined as personalized feedback on “about me” assignment) interactions 2 of 3 email encouragement to near  1 of 3 email inactive students, encouragement to unsystematic and near inactive students, unscheduled systematic, scheduled One adapt assignments  No differences in and one “I treat them all the same” treatment
  • Results > Similarities in Perception ofRole View curriculum as teacher  “The material on there is the teacher essentially.” View self as TA / Grader View feedback as subordinate role to teaching  Do not perceive feedback as teaching View self as removed from the student and student experience.
  • Results > Differences in Perception ofRoleHigh Completer Teachers Low Completer Teachers Encourager  Sheppard/Manage 2 of 3 teachers Movement  Herd them through  Student owns it  Self-guided w/o teacher
  • Implications Teachers expressed a desire for more synchronous, higher fidelity interactions.  Provide supports to accomplish this. Teachers beliefs regarding types of interactions possible act as barriers to interaction Institutional factors act as barriers to interaction  Incentive to disengage
  • Abigail Hawkinsabbyhawkins7@gmail.com Michael K. Barbour mkbarbour@gmail.com Charles R. Grahamcharles_graham@byu.edu
  • Selected References Barbour, M. K., & Reeves, T. C. (2009). The reality of virtual schools: A review of the literature. Computers & Education, 52(2), 402-416. Berge, Z. L., && Clark, T. (2005). Virtual schools planning for success. New York: Teachers College Press. Bigbie, C., &McCarroll, W. (2000). The florida virtual high evaluation 1999- 2000 report. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from http://www.flvs.net/educators/documents/pdf/archived_evals/FLVS%20Ann ual%20Evaluations/99-2000/99-2000%20Year%20End%20Evaluation.pdf Cavanaugh, C., Gillan, K. J., Bosnick, J., Hess, M., & Scott, H. (2005). Succeeding at the gateway: Secondary algebra learning in the virtual school. Jacksonville, FL: University of North Florida. Picciano, A. G. (2002). Beyond student perceptions: Issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 6(1), 21-40. Rice, K. L. (2006). A comprehensive look at distance education in the K-12 context. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(4), 425-448.
  • Selected References Smith, R., Clark, T., &Blomeyer, R. (2005). A synthesis of new research in K-12 online learning. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Watson, J., Gemin, B., & Ryan, J. (2008). Keeping pace with K-12 online learning: A review of state-level policy and practice. Vienna, VA: North American Council for Online Learning. Retrieved from http://www.kpk12.com/downloads/KeepingPace_2008.pdf Watson, J., Gemin, B., Ryan, J., & Wicks, M. (2009). Keeping pace with K-12 online learning: A review of state- level policy and practice. Vienna, VA: North American Council for Online Learning. Retrieved from http://www.kpk12.com/downloads/KeepingPace09- fullreport.pdf Weiner, C. (2003). Key ingredients to online learning: Adolescent students study in cyberspace - the nature of the study. International Journal of E-Learning, July-September, 44-50.