Online and Traditional Lectures: Evaluating Effects of Social Presence and Learner Control

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2013

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Online courses are rapidly replacing traditional, face-to-face lectures in American universities (Allen & Seaman, 2011). As technology improves, this trend will likely continue and accelerate. Researchers must evaluate the impact of online courses compared to their traditional counterparts. This two-part study quantifies the effect of two variables – social presence and learner control – on students’ recall, application and perceived learning levels in different lecture formats. Students in introductory courses at a four-year, public, American university were randomly assigned into three groups to view distinct lecture formats, one in a traditional classroom and two via the Internet. Upon viewing the single lecture, the students were asked to fill out a test and survey to quantify teacher immediacy, recall and application, and perceived learning levels across lecture formats. The study found that different levels of social presence and learner control affected students’ perceived learning levels but did not impact recall or application.

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