390559 Online Course Materials and Do Students Use Them in Ways That We Expect Rational Beings Would?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 9:20 AM
M105 (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
Paul Blowers1, Christopher Jabczynski1 and Ali Khaghani2, (1)Chemical and Environmental Engineering, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, (2)Chemical and Environmental Engineering, U of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Faculty members and students often spend large amounts of time creating and accessing online materials that are intended to supplement and support educational experiences.  From the faculty perspective, there are inherent expectations that faculty hold that may or may not be supported by what students actually do.  From the student perspective, there will be some materials that are more accessible or desirable to use at different points during the semester.

To date, no one has analyzed a STEM course and the online materials that students actually have accessed, how often, and under which course contexts.  This research examines one sophomore engineering course in depth to understand access patterns to online content and how those correlate with student success on homework, on exams, and overall, in the course.  Data was pulled from the campus course management software each night and the number of times that students had accessed each course page was archived.  A data management analysis package was written in VBA in Excel in order to extract data and examine trends from the raw archives.

We hypothesize that students who were performing at a high level of success would reduce their time on task using online materials whgen they were above certain threshold grade levels on exams.  Conversely, we hypothesize that students below certain thresholds would respond after a poor score by either increasing access to the online materials, or completely ceasing their use.  The different threshold values correspond fairly closely to the grade cut-offs set for the course.  We also hypothesize that English as a Second language learners would more heavily access online verbal recordings than other students.  We hypothesize that supplemental materials that had been created but not specifically required for use in the class were little utilized, implying that faculty members should invest the time in creation of those materials only if they are going to  require their access or use.  We found that most of our hypotheses were supported by data, but that other trends that we were not expecting are also noteworthy.

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