Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Peter Duffy

Abstract

Online coursework in higher education is an accessible, cost-effective alternative for students and institutions. As demand for online courses grows, the need to address discrepancies in online student success and elevated attrition rates is a pressing issue in higher education. Instructional methods in online classrooms are a potential lever for minimizing these gaps. Research indicates motivation is a key indicator of student success and can have a positive impact on student achievement and persistence, whether online or in a traditional classroom setting. Collaboration, including social interaction, has also been shown to have a positive impact on student outcomes, and can potentially lessen the isolation online learners report feeling. Using a college online biology class, this action research study employed quantitative methods to examine the effect of collaborative activities on student motivation through the administration of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Additionally, student achievement was compared on independent discussion posts and on collaboratively constructed posts, and student perceptions of collaboration were evaluated through administration of a questionnaire at the conclusion of the study. No significant change was seen in student motivation levels after the introduction of collaboration; yet, the students recognized the advantage of the introduction of collaboration as the exposure to new perspectives and social connection. The significance of this study is the examination of an instructional technique’s effect on motivation of students in an online biological sciences course taught at a technical college, in an effort to increase student success and limit attrition.

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