Monday, March 7, 2022

Live Learning Through  Asynchronous First-year Experience: Learning from Students

Jennifer Robinson, Ph.D.
The purpose of this research was to understand better and disseminate students' reactions to Live Learning (or synchronous learning) as part of an asynchronous first-year experience course. Live Learning (LL) is optional, except for Information Literacy. However, LL is now gaining traction as a viable alternative to solely asynchronous teaching and learning. Understanding how students react to these sessions is crucial as part of the First-Year Experience High Impact Practices (Kuh, 2008). Without understanding this information, we run the risk of not adapting our sessions to meet the needs of our students and not supporting their persistence to graduation. 

 Information Literacy has traditionally been a completely asynchronous course as part of the general education sequence at UAGC. However, during the 2021 redesign, embedded orientation and LL were added as requirements for students. Embedded orientation is mentioned in conjunction with LL because LL teaches students how to use the online library to complete assignments and how-to-use-the-library modules were traditionally housed in an orientation course. When the decision was made to embed orientation into general education courses to demonstrate the connections between university resources and course progression, LL and the library became a common objective. 

Synchronous learning is a viable option alongside otherwise completely asynchronous learning. Such sessions allow faculty to make public what is often private teaching, especially in asynchronous courses (Yamagata-Lynch, 2014). These participatory learning spaces enable students to feel a sense of connection with the university while demonstrating the value of their presence (Han, 2013) and decreasing transactional distance (Moore, 2013). Students who engage in synchronous learning as part of an asynchronous course engage in scaffolded teaching and learning and begin to think of themselves as participatory learners. Synchronous learning sessions must be well-executed and intentionally designed to promote community, interaction, and dialogue (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011). 

This qualitative case study will share the themes and patterns that emerged from students' voices through the triangulation of three data points:

1. Zoom chat during LL
2. Post LL student surveys
3. A question required on the final project in the course
Conclusions will also offer suggestions for what research still needs to be undertaken. Since the revision team followed the recommendations of creating a well-executed and intentionally designed Live Learning session, we want to ensure that students feel they have benefitted from this required part of the course. This study supports the High Impact Practice of First-Year Experience and supports the Power of One retention and persistence initiative. Through uncovering themes in the data, it will be possible to revise GEN103 and the LL sessions to meet the needs of students and promote retention and persistence toward graduation.

PI for this study is Jen Robinson (Lead Faculty). Co-PIs are Stacy Manning (Core Faculty), Tanya Mooney (Core Faculty), Diane Hilbrink (Associate Faculty), Benjamin Sorensen (Associate Faculty), and Cathlene Dollar (Associate Faculty).

Conrad, R.M. & Donaldson, J.A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources
for creative instruction (2nd ed). Jossey-Bass

Kuh, G. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them,and why they matter. Association of American Colleges and Universities.  

Han, H. (2013). Do nonvermal emotional cues matter? Effectof of video casting in synchronousvirtual classrooms. American Journal of Distance Education, 27(4), 17-28.

Moore, R. (2003). Reexamining the field experiences of preservice teachers. Journal of TeacherEducation, 54(1), 31-42.

Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2014). Blending Online Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning. TheInternational Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(2), 189-212. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v15i2.1778

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