Research Briefs

A Collection of Brief Publications from the Center

Records: 12

A Study of the Impact of Open Access Textbooks on Student Performance and Satisfaction

Dylan Barth, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Dianne Reddy, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Abstract

This study sought to determine the impact upon student success and satisfaction of replacing a high-cost textbook with a free, open access textbook in an Introduction to Psychology course at UW-Milwaukee. The study found that students using an open textbook began their coursework earlier, made better progress across the term, needing fewer quiz attempts to earn their grade, and earned a higher mean final grade than those required to purchase a non-open textbook. Furthermore, no student expressed dissatisfaction with using the open textbook, and most felt it facilitated their learning.

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Do Student-Produced Videos Enhance Engagement and Learning in the Online Environment?

Denise Stanley, California State University Fullerton

Abstract

This brief summarizes research about how a pedagogy design component, student-produced problem-solving videos, could promote deeper learning for individual students and peer- learning to impact student learning outcomes and retention in distance education. Our initial hypothesis is that students involved in the video production are more engaged and will
have more successful learning and retention outcomes since the process of creating the video involves deeper (higher-
level) learning and peer efforts provide alternative ways of understanding a problem. Two economics classes with
multiple sections and levels (approximately 180 students) at CSUF were used for this research. Both student survey
responses and data from course activity and performance are analyzed to help answer the research questions and test the
hypotheses. The pilot study shows few significant differences across the sub-samples with and without the intervention,
although the performance of students in the upper-division class showed some learning gains.

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Effect of U-Pace Instruction in Younger and Older Undergraduates

Ray Fleming, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College

Abstract

This randomized controlled trial sought to determine the efficacy of U-Pace instruction for undergraduates aged 25 and
older (older undergraduates) and undergraduates aged 18 to 24 (younger undergraduates). For all undergraduates, U-Pace
instruction produced greater learning, greater academic success, and sustained or improved students’ perceptions of
themselves as learners compared to face-to-face instruction. The findings provide strong support for the efficacy of U-Pace
instruction in both older and younger students and highlight a possible mechanism underlying U-Pace instruction’s effects on
learning and academic success.

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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Active Learning Strategies in Distance Learning Using Meta-Analysis

Mike Allen, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Arrington Stoll, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Abstract

One question about online learning is the ability and effectiveness of incorporating active learning strategies. An existing body of scientific research demonstrates that the incorporation of active learning strategies improves the effectiveness of instruction in face-to-face classrooms. Active learning strategies involve a set of instructional practices: (a) using problem-based instruction where students work to solve challenges, (b) using collaborative exercises among peers to fulfill assignments, (c) including expectations that involve student participation in defining and responding to tasks, and (d) learning platforms that require active student engagement for progression.

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Examine Best Practices for Online STEM Education at the University of Central Florida

Baiyun Chen, University of Central Florida

Abstract

The purpose of this survey study is to examine best practices for online education in the science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics (STEM) fields using the DETA research toolkit at the University of Central Florida (UCF). In general,
students were satisfied with the online/blended STEM course that they participated in and expressed positive interest in
taking future STEM courses in either modality. The results of the survey will inform designers and instructors how to
design effective, inclusive, and engaging online STEM curriculum.

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Measuring Student Success in a Non-Term, Direct Assessment CBE Program

Matthew Mayeshiba, University of Wisconsin System

Alice Pulvermacher, University of Wisconsin System

Abstract

This study was designed to establish a benchmark of student success in the University of Wisconsin’s UW Flexible Option,
a non-term, direct assessment competency-based program. We examined student enrollment and grade patterns for the
569 students who enrolled during the first two calendar years of the program. We found that students who mastered at
least one course-equivalent during their initial enrollment in the program were retained at significantly higher rates than
those who did not, regardless of the other grades they received. Mapping patterns of student success and retention
into later enrollments found that students who mastered at least one course-equivalent during their initial enrollment
were far more likely to be retained after their second enrollment regardless of that enrollment’s outcome. These
results underline the importance of designing programs to ensure students have enough support to achieve a tangible
level of success as they integrate into a competency-based academic program.

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Perceptions of the Persistent: Subpopulation Engagement and Learning Community

Wendy Atkins, Florida Southwestern State College

Abstract

In an effort to characterize perceptions of learning community and engagement in relation to success for subpopulations of online learners at a public institution in southeastern United States, a survey was conducted in Spring 2016. The results of the survey were paired with institutional data to create a baseline engagement and learning community profile for the online student population. The subpopulations of interest were: gender, age, student status, employment, race, first generation in college, disability, and orphan.

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Students Experience of Presence in Online Courses

Simone C. O. Conceição,, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Anita J. Samuel, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Ali Yilmaz, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Abstract

The purpose of this exploratory study was to develop a survey instrument to identify ways in which students
experience a sense of presence online in the context of higher education. The survey items were developed from the “Being There” for the Online Learner Model (Lehman & Conceição, 2010). Cognitive testing of the items was conducted to refine the survey terminology. After data collection, exploratory factor analysis was performed and a two-factor model was identified. Findings indicate that interactions between people and a sense of validation, recognition, and acknowledgement were
associated with experiencing a sense of presence. The modes of presence were associated with a sense of transparency and absence of technology. This study confirmed the presence model and the two-factor constructs: types of experience and modes of presence. It also generated and verified a presence instrument with a total of 20 items.

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The Impact of Closed Caption Use on Learning Outcomes in Fully Online Classes

Katie Linder, Oregon State University

Abstract

This brief summarizes research conducted by the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit regarding closed
captioning, or the practice of providing a text version of spoken words and sounds for video or other multimedia. This
research investigates the impact of closed caption use on learning outcomes in a fully online college-level class.

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The University of Wisconsin Flexible Option: A Case Study of Non-Term, Direct Assessment Competency-Based Education

Alice Pulvermacher, University of Wisconsin System and Lumina Foundation

Matthew Mayeshiba, University of Wisconsin System and Lumina Foundation

Abstract

The University of Wisconsin System, with support from Lumina Foundation and in cooperation with the DETA Center,
is documenting the critical elements that comprise the creation of the University of Wisconsin (UW) Flexible Option
degree program. This non-term, direct assessment, competency-based program is administered by the UW-
Extension in collaboration with partnering UW institutions and first began enrolling students in January 2014. Through
interviews with students, faculty, and staff, we examined key insights and challenges facing new direct assessment
programs in six domains: academics, budget, communications, metrics, enrollment management and technology, and policy. This information will be combined with other examinations of the UW Flexible Option and presented on a website to be published in 2017.

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