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  • 1. A Q METHODOLOGICAL STUDY ON PERCEPTIONS OF WHAT WOULD ENHANCE DISTANCE EDUCATION Dr. Joseph A Meloche and Dr. Ying Sun
  • 2. A philosophical and cross-disciplinary framework for studying different forms of human practices as developmental processes, with both individual and social levels interlinked at the same time” (Kuutti, in Nardi, 1996). Activity Theory
  • 3. Activity Theory  Activities are the basic units of analysis  An Individual’s actions + meaningful context = an Activity  Activities are not static  Each activity has a history of its own  Activities are under continuous change/development  Activities always contain various mediating artifacts  There is an relationship between people and these artifacts  Notion of consciousness as something directly related to the conditions current in a person’s situation  Unifies consciousness and activity
  • 4. Activity Theory Tools
  • 5. Q Methodology  Originally developed by the British physicist- psychologist, William Stephenson (1935). He introduced this method in a letter to the Nature.  A research method used to study people's "subjectivity" -- that is, their viewpoint such as personal thinking, notion (Stephenson, 1968).  Currently used in the social sciences with research settings to examine how people think about a topic.
  • 6. Q Study Process  Q population, collecting statements  Q samples, selecting statements  P sample, collecting Q sorters  Q sorting, rank-orders of a set of statements from “most agree” to “most disagree”  Q analysis
  • 7. Q Study Brainstorming Session
  • 8. Q Study Factor Analysis  Q methodology referred to "a population of n different tests (or essays, pictures, traits or other measurable material), each of which is measured or scaled by m individuals“ (Stephenson, 1935). Given a set of statements, Q will analyze the factors among the m individuals (Q-sorters).  The number of factors identified depends in part depends upon the degree of agreement among participants, and in part on how much detail the researchers feel is useful to analyze.  The selected factors will then be interpreted in order to present the social discourses revealed.
  • 9. Experiment: Q Study with 2 Sessions  Session 1: a concourse/brainstorming session where participants’ views on effective distance education were sought.  Session 2: seeks the views students and educators hold based upon their opinion and experience with distance education.  The topic for the brain storming session was: What is important for effective learning in distance education?
  • 10. Session 1: Brainstorming & Concourse Q Samples for Enhancing Distance Education (N=40) presented in the order and original way they were collected 1. Classes that are interactive 2. Classes that are not dependent on interactions 3. The ability of students to decide on the level of interaction they have with other students 4. Having a pre-established meeting time for classes 5. Having no established class meeting time 6. Opportunities to teleconference or videoconference with other students easily 7. The opportunity for online students to interact with on-campus students taking the same course 8. Having a set of rules to apply to group work 9. Flexible group participation 10. Advanced notice of synchronous sessions 11. Continuity among different distance education software platforms 12. The incorporation of multimedia 13. Having a user friendly distance learning interface 14. Having a tutorial session for the learning software that will be used at the start of the semester 15. Easy to use software 16. Reliable software 17. Use of familiar technologies 18. Taking full advantage of the features of distance education software 19. Explicit information about the technical requirements for utilizing distance learning software 20. A class structure which keeps pace with new technologies such as tablets or smart phones 21. Use of podcasts and YouTube videos as a substitute for live lectures 22. Detailed instructions and expectations for assignments and participation 23. A solid, stable class structure 24. Classes that are structured as similarly to a classroom setting as possible 25. Clear instructor guidance 26. Timely feedback from instructors about grades 27. A set submission area for assignments and announcements so that confusion is decreased 28. Assignments tailored specifically to fit an online setting 29. Practical assignments 30. A well-planned syllabus 31. Incorporating of aspects of a traditional lecture into the class structure 32. Access to different modes of communication 33. Having a contact person to assist online students with administrative needs 34. Regular communication with instructors outside of class meetings 35. Having a contact person to assist online students with technical difficulties 36. Frequent communication with instructors 37. Instructors having proactive contact with students 38. Consistency in announcements 39. Having access to contact people who are affiliated with the organization offering the course 40. Having ways to access and participate in associations, activities, information related to the program
  • 11. Session 2: Q Sort Sorting Spreadsheet Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 Strongly Disagree ← Neither Agree Nor Disagree → Strongly Agree Once you have Pre-sorted the Statements via the Statement-Blocks, you are to arange the statements based upon the extent to which you agree or disagree with them relative to the scale provided. Do this by moving the Statement-Blocks into place on the Sorting Grid. On the scale, -5 represents total disagreement with a given Statement, and 5 represents total agreement with a Statement. Position is only important in terms of horizontal placement along the scale. Vertical placement is unimportant. Sorting Grid
  • 12. Results  Reported here are the analytical results of the 27 participants’ sorting 40 statements on the question: What is (most) important for effective learning in distance education?  The factor analysis produced 4 factors: 1. Traditional Distance Learning 2. The Independent Learner 3. Highly Structured Instructor Driven Courses and Collaborative Opportunities 4. The Highly Collaborative, Web 2.0 Factor
  • 13. Factor I: Traditional Distance Learning  22 detailed instructions and expectations for assignments and participation (1.953)  25 clear instructor guidance (1.834)  30 a well-planned syllabus (1.698)  5 having no established class meeting time (1.681)  26 timely feedback from instructors about grades (1.240)  38 consistency in announcements (1.223)  10 advanced notice of synchronous sessions (1.019)  23 a solid, stable class structure (1.002)  39 having access to contact people who are affiliated with the organization offering the course (-0.883)  1 classes that are interactive (-1.172)  6 opportunities to teleconference or videoconference with other students easily (-1.291)  4 having a pre-established meeting time for classes (-1.528)  7 the opportunity for online students to interact with on-campus students taking the same course (-1.749)  24 classes that are structured as similarly to a classroom setting as possible (-2.021)  31 incorporating of aspects of a traditional lecture into the class structure (-2.089) High Positive Q Sample & z-score High Negative Q Sample & z-score
  • 14. Factor II: The Independent Learner  2 classes that are not dependent on interactions (1.791)  3 the ability of students to decide on the level of interaction they have with other students (1.490)  5 having no established class meeting time (1.270)  14 having a tutorial session for the learning software that will be used at the start of the semester (1.160)  9 flexible group participation (1.110)  18 taking full advantage of the features of distance education software (1.080)  7 the opportunity for online students to interact with on-campus students taking the same course (1.010)  26 timely feedback from instructors about grades (-0.840)  13 having a user friendly distance learning interface (-0.910)  36 frequent communication with instructors (-1.010 )  29 practical assignments (-1.020)  1 classes that are interactive (-1.400)  30 a well-planned syllabus (-1.551) High Positive Q Sample & z-score High Negative Q Sample & z-score
  • 15. Factor III: Highly Structured Instructor Driven Courses and Collaborative Opportunities  22 detailed instructions and expectations for assignments and participation (0.872)  4 having a pre-established meeting time for classes (0.828)  25 clear instructor guidance (0.784)  16 reliable software (0.722)  13 having a user friendly distance learning interface (0.678)  10 advanced notice of synchronous sessions (0.643)  26 timely feedback from instructors about grades (0.590)  1 classes that are interactive (0.493)  40 having ways to access and participate in associations (-0.537)  activities, information related to the program (-0.572)  7 the opportunity for online students to interact with on-campus students taking the same course (-0.572)  12 the incorporation of multimedia (-0.590)  39 having access to contact people who are affiliated with the organization offering the course (- 0.616)  21 use of podcasts and YouTube videos as a substitute for live lectures (-1.004)  5 having no established class meeting time High Positive Q Sample & z-score High Negative Q Sample & z-score
  • 16. Factor IV: The Highly Collaborative, Web 2.0 Factor  21 use of podcasts and YouTube videos as a substitute for live lecture (0.939 )  15 easy to use software (0.756)  6 opportunities to teleconference or videoconference with other students easily (0.692)  12 the incorporation of multimedia (0.557)  14 having a tutorial session for the learning software that will be used at the start of the semester (0.533)  28 assignments tailored specifically to fit an online setting (0.493)  10 advanced notice of synchronous sessions (0.446)  18 taking full advantage of the features of distance education software (0.438)  20 a class structure which keeps pace with new technologies such as tablets or smart phones (0.438)  8 having a set of rules to apply to group work (-0.517)  22 detailed instructions and expectations for assignments and participation (-0.517)  37 instructors having proactive contact with students (-0.541)  4 having a pre-established meeting time for classes (-0.557)  24 classes that are structured as similarly to a classroom setting as possible (-0.756)  31 incorporating of aspects of a traditional lecture into the class structure (-0.780)  23 a solid, stable class structure (-0.891) High Positive Q Sample & z-score High Negative Q Sample & z-score
  • 17. Discussion & Implications  Enable the design of more effective learning systems and services to better support distance education  Inform the development of delivery that will improve the delivery by the informed use and design of the distance learning environments  Advance the understanding of collaborative information seeking in non-traditional library environment  Increase our understandings of this context and improve the ability of librarians and information professionals to work together collaboratively and effectively in non-traditional environments
  • 18. Future Work  Conduct interviews of the participants and with an analysis of the material based on the framework provided by Activity Theory,  Activity Theory allows for a refined analysis that maintains the user’s perspective and incorporating a holistic approach to the ongoing evolution of learning environments.  Collect more data.  Expand the study to include researchers from other countries.  Schedule conferences and present findings,  Recently submitted proposal to16th Distance Library Services Conference, April 23-25, 2014, Denver, CO, USA.
  • 19. Presentation designed by Sarah Harris, MA, MLS Joseph A Meloche School of Library and Information Sciences North Carolina Central University Durham, NC 27707, U.S.A. jmeloche@nccu.edu Ying Sun Department of Library and Information Studies University at Buffalo, the State University of New York Buffalo, NY 14260, U.S.A. sun3@buffalo.edu