Researching Learner Experiences  in Text-based Online Learning Environments <ul><li>Benjamin Kehrwald </li></ul><ul><li>NZ...
The  learner experience <ul><li>A theory-generative approach… </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding relationships between  </li>...
The questions <ul><li>How might social presence enhance the provision of learners support in text-based online learning en...
Complicating factors <ul><li>Situated and distributed nature  of knowledge in  these environments </li></ul><ul><li>Dynami...
Key design choices <ul><li>Those who employ constructivist research “share the goal of understanding the complex world of ...
Research design <ul><li>Qualitative approach, constructivist paradigm </li></ul><ul><li>Collective case study: </li></ul><...
Analysis <ul><li>Thematic, Open coding </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple analyses:  </li></ul><ul><li>Between phases for each cas...
Advantages of the design <ul><li>The iterative nature of the dialogical process provides for refinement and focusing of id...
Issues arising (1) <ul><li>The  role of theory  in theory-generative research:  </li></ul><ul><li>As ‘guide’ or ‘guard’? <...
Issues arising (2) <ul><li>The subjective/object problem </li></ul><ul><li>Subjectivity  as haphazard, indefensible, idosy...
Issues arising (3) <ul><li>The role of the researcher as co-constructor </li></ul><ul><li>Researching with vs. research on...
Issues arising (4) <ul><li>The experience of participation in the research </li></ul><ul><li>Participation is a learning p...
Thank You. Questions? [email_address]
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  • Welcome Introduction
  • Nzare2008

    1. 1. Researching Learner Experiences in Text-based Online Learning Environments <ul><li>Benjamin Kehrwald </li></ul><ul><li>NZARE 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Palmerston North </li></ul>
    2. 2. The learner experience <ul><li>A theory-generative approach… </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding relationships between </li></ul><ul><li>Learning tasks (as intended) </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching activity </li></ul><ul><li>What learners actually do (learning activity) </li></ul><ul><li>Not only what is learned, but how it is learned </li></ul>
    3. 3. The questions <ul><li>How might social presence enhance the provision of learners support in text-based online learning environments? </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on: </li></ul><ul><li>How learners in online courses experience social presence </li></ul><ul><li>How learners in online courses perceive and/or experience learner support </li></ul><ul><li>How these experiences affect learner activity in online learning environments </li></ul>
    4. 4. Complicating factors <ul><li>Situated and distributed nature of knowledge in these environments </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamic, emergent nature of activity </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of context </li></ul><ul><li>Text-based environment, limited communicative channels </li></ul>
    5. 5. Key design choices <ul><li>Those who employ constructivist research “share the goal of understanding the complex world of lived experience from the point of view of those who live it” (Schwandt, 1998, p. 221) </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning is constructed through iterative cycles of information gathering and interpretation. </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding, and therefore knowledge, are products of dialogue and negotiated meaning (Lincoln & Guba, 2003). </li></ul><ul><li>Constructivist inquirers read these meanings and construct their own interpretation. Rather than referencing strictly objective criteria, constructivist researchers premise the quality of their work on relative propositions which reference the contexts under study and appreciate the practicalities of ‘rightness’ in context. These general standards include such ideas as trustworthiness and authenticity (Guba & Linclon, 1998). </li></ul>
    6. 6. Research design <ul><li>Qualitative approach, constructivist paradigm </li></ul><ul><li>Collective case study: </li></ul><ul><li>4 cases, each a single offering of an online postgrad course </li></ul><ul><li>Respondent groups of 3-6 </li></ul><ul><li>Data collection using an dialogical process: </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaire, Interview, Discussion, Interview, Discussion </li></ul>
    7. 7. Analysis <ul><li>Thematic, Open coding </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple analyses: </li></ul><ul><li>Between phases for each case </li></ul><ul><li>At the conclusion of each case </li></ul><ul><li>At the conclusion of all cases </li></ul><ul><li>Constructive approach: findings built up (constructed) over time </li></ul>
    8. 8. Advantages of the design <ul><li>The iterative nature of the dialogical process provides for refinement and focusing of ideas </li></ul><ul><li>The process draws out both individual and shared perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>There is accommodation for emergent points of view </li></ul><ul><li>There is a tightening of focus as the process continues </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple opportunities for respondent validation </li></ul>
    9. 9. Issues arising (1) <ul><li>The role of theory in theory-generative research: </li></ul><ul><li>As ‘guide’ or ‘guard’? </li></ul><ul><li>As ‘prior conceptions’ or ‘preconceptions’? </li></ul><ul><li>In this study: </li></ul><ul><li>Use theory as background to inform, but let data speak for themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Employ techniques which enhance the quality of the interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Be willing to cross disciplinary boundaries as part of reconsidering the role of theory in research design, data collection and interpretation. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Issues arising (2) <ul><li>The subjective/object problem </li></ul><ul><li>Subjectivity as haphazard, indefensible, idosyncratic personal view </li></ul><ul><li>OR </li></ul><ul><li>Perceptive, insightful and discerning as part of a rich understanding? </li></ul><ul><li>The subjective/objective duality is potentially false </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the practical nature of knowing </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on knowledge which is advantageous to the knower </li></ul>
    11. 11. Issues arising (3) <ul><li>The role of the researcher as co-constructor </li></ul><ul><li>Researching with vs. research on </li></ul><ul><li>A partnership approach </li></ul><ul><li>The lead ‘builder’ in a shared construction </li></ul><ul><li>Advantages: Rapport, Access to participants’ experiences, understanding from context, </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantages: Undue influence on respondents, loss of perspective </li></ul>
    12. 12. Issues arising (4) <ul><li>The experience of participation in the research </li></ul><ul><li>Participation is a learning process </li></ul><ul><li>The focus of the study is a moving target </li></ul><ul><li>Caveats: </li></ul><ul><li>Be mindful of roles for researchers and respondents </li></ul><ul><li>Look for the authentic voice of each respondent </li></ul><ul><li>Use relationship to identify influences, interpret responses </li></ul>
    13. 13. Thank You. Questions? [email_address]

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