Desired Learning Behaviors in Online Education: Measuring Student Perceptions and Practices in the OMSCS Program
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As online education continues to grow in popularity, so too do educators’ concerns about the challenges facing asynchronous learning environments. The Georgia Tech OMSCS program addresses the concerns of the education research community by offering new approaches to student feedback, encouraging student interaction and community discussion, and introducing new technologies and interventions to promote student engagement. Some courses in the OMSCS program, like the popular Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence (KBAI) course, were designed to enhance the student learning experience and support the development of desirable learning behaviors by adopting efficacious methods of instruction. Over the last year and a half, my research in the Design & Intelligence lab with Dr. Ashok Goel has focused on exploring various methods for evaluating courses in the OMSCS program. In our research, we examine student perceptions and practices towards identifying specific behaviors that influence student academic performance. We are evaluating the utility of new technology, such as the Virtual Teaching Assist (vTA) Jill Watson, in providing timely and context-specific feedback to students who ask questions in online discussion forums. Additionally, we are beginning to examine the impact of the vTA on student perceptions of teacher immediacy. Finally, we are exploring the use of a popular theoretical framework, the community of inquiry framework, to investigate types of peer interactions in online discussion forums to identify behavioral patterns that correlate with increased academic performance.
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