Department of Applied Engineering
School of Engineering and Computing
National University
San Diego, California

Enriching Responsiveness to Enhance Student Learning in Online Courses

This paper assesses the effectiveness of three specific processes to enhance student interaction and collaboration by comparing their effectiveness for online courses with on-site courses. The processes include: 1) a full set of recorded lectures available in indexed segments of 5-10 minutes per segment, 2) mentored assignments, and 3) pre-recorded small group project presentations. Students find the recorded lecture segments very effective for reviewing and mastering concepts they had difficulty grasping when they were presented initially. The mentored assignment process enables online students to interact more effectively with other online students, by focusing their interaction on a few others rather than the whole class. Data is presented showing that quality of research, original thinking, understanding of the subject, and thoroughness of work is as good as or better for online students when compared with onsite students. Similar results are presented showing the effectiveness of having small groups work together to develop a recording of their findings. The process of developing the recorded presentation enables effective collaboration and frees students from obstacles that have been encountered in trying to make small group projects work in online courses. Data is presented showing that, using this approach, small group project quality is comparable for online and on-site courses. A survey focusing on student perception of the small group process, shows that most, but not all students find that the process improves their learning, their critical thinking and the quality of their work.

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