Virtual School Meanderings

April 12, 2012

Reminder: Annual Meeting of AERA 2012 And K-12 Online Learning

A reminder that the the 2012 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association from 13-17 April 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia begins tomorrow. I have conducted a search of the program using the usual terms and for the usual people and have generated the following list of K-12 online learning presentations.

Friday – April 13, 2012

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Access to Algebra I: The Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students
Division H – Research, Evaluation and Assessment in Schools
Section 2: Program Evaluation in School Settings
Building/Room: Marriott Pinnacle, Third Level – Pinnacle III
Session Participants: Virtual Algebra Study: Study Design and Methodology – Jessica Heppen (American Institutes for Research), Peggy Clements (Education Development Center, Inc.)
Virtual Algebra Study: Description of the Intervention – Cheryl M. Tobey (Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance), Kirk Walters (American Institutes for Research)
Virtual Algebra Study: Study Results – Jessica Heppen (American Institutes for Research), Ann-Marie Faria (American Institutes for Research), Kirk Walters (American Institutes for Research), Nicholas Andrew Sorensen (American Institutes for Research)
Virtual Algebra Study: Implications and Discussion of Findings – Peggy Clements (Education Development Center, Inc.), Cheryl M. Tobey (Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance), Ann-Marie Faria (American Institutes for Research)
Chair: Katherine E. Culp (Education Development Center, Inc.)
Discussant: Jon R. Star (Harvard University), Sara E. Wraight (American Institutes for Research)
Abstract: This symposium presents results from the “Virtual Algebra” Study, a large-scale randomized control trial examining the impact of offering online Algebra I to grade 8 students considered ready for algebra but who attend schools that do not typically offer the course. The study was conducted in 68 mostly rural middle schools in two states. Primary analyses focused on effects of the online course on “algebra-ready” students’ algebra achievement at the end of grade 8 and their subsequent high school coursetaking patterns. The symposium will include presentation of the study design, implementation of the online Algebra I course intervention, full study results, and an interactive discussion grounded in feedback the study team has gathered from participating schools.

Virtual Algebra Study: Study Design and Methodology
Presenters/Authors: Jessica Heppen (American Institutes for Research), Peggy Clements (Education Development Center, Inc.)
Abstract: This paper describes the study design and methodology. Schools were eligible if they did not typically offer a full section of Algebra I to grade 8 students as of the 2007/08 school year. In June 2008, a total of 68 mostly rural middle schools in two states were randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions. The average number of “algebra-ready” (AR) students in the participating schools was 6.5. In all cases, the identification of AR students occurred prior to random assignment. Schools assigned to the treatment condition received the online Algebra I course to offer to their AR students during the 2008/09 school year. Control schools implemented their usual mathematics curriculum. Outcome data were collected from two distinct student samples: 1) 440 AR students who attended the participating schools, and 2) 1,445 N-AR students who were in grade 8 in the participating schools in 2008/09, and had not been identified as “AR” the spring before random assignment. The study addresses two primary research questions: • What is the impact of offering an online Algebra I course to AR students on their algebra achievement at the end of grade 8? Algebra achievement was measured with a computer-adaptive assessment administered in spring 2009. • How does offering an online Algebra I course to AR students affect their likelihood of participating in an advanced course sequence in high school? Advanced coursetaking was measured by collecting and coding AR students’ actual grade 9 and planned grade 10 course information in spring 2010. Based on prior research on course sequences, the high school course data were coded as advanced if the students successfully completed a full-year course above Algebra I in grade 9 with a grade of C or higher, and enrolled in the next course in the sequence for grade 10. Secondary questions address potential unintended consequences (or side effects) of offering online Algebra I to AR students. They include: • What is the effect of providing online Algebra I to AR students on their general mathematics achievement at the end of grade 8? General mathematics achievement was measured with a computer-adaptive assessment that drew 30 items for each student from an item back of over 1,000 items ranging in difficulty from grade 5 to grade 8 level. • What is the effect of providing online Algebra I (to AR students) N–AR students’ algebra achievement, general mathematics achievement, and likelihood of following an intermediate course sequence in high school? N-AR students took the same algebra and general mathematics assessment as did AR students in spring 2009. Intermediate coursetaking was measured by collecting and coding planned grade 9 course names for N-AR students in spring 2009. Planned grade 9 courses were coded as indicating an intermediate course sequence if the course was at or above Algebra I (vs e.g., prealgebra). The paper will describe in detail sample recruitment, random assignment, data collection and analysis strategies, and the framework for evaluating the overall “success” of the intervention.

Virtual Algebra Study: Description of the Intervention
Presenters/Authors: Cheryl M. Tobey (Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance), Kirk Walters (American Institutes for Research)
Abstract: This paper describes the online Algebra I course that was delivered as the intervention in this study. It is a completely web-based course offered by Class.com, based in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Algebra I course was one of Class.com’s existing products. As implemented for the study, the online Algebra I course had three instructional components: the online course software, an online teacher (provided by Class.com), and an on-site proctor (provided by the school). Researchers determined that the topics covered in Class.com’s Algebra I course were similar to those in typical Algebra I textbooks used in the region. The material for each topic is presented in the form of an electronic, interactive textbook that consists of computerized direct instruction; guided practice (“your-turn” problems) and practice problem sets, both with automated feedback; and quizzes and exams that provide immediate scores. Other activities include demonstrations of content materials; audio clips; interactive applets that present questions and guided solutions; a messaging feature through which students can send and receive messages from the online teachers; and a discussion board to which students can post questions and comments. Students taking the online course were assigned to a specific course section and taught by an online teacher hired, trained, and supervised by Class.com. The online teacher was responsible for providing instruction and supporting student learning. Participating schools were required to provide a school staff member to serve as an on-site proctor, who would supervise and support students while they were using the online course. The proctor did not have to be a mathematics teacher and was not required to provide instruction. Proctors were expected to supervise students’ behavior, serve as a contact person for students and parents, proctor quizzes and exams, and act as a liaison between the online teacher and the school, students, and parents. A total of 242 students enrolled in the online course (211 AR students and an additional 31 N–AR students placed into the course by their schools after random assignment). Students within schools were enrolled in one of 10 course sections, with an average of 24 students per section. All treatment schools met with the study’s requirement to provide the online course as the participating student’s mathematics course for eighth grade (that is, not as a supplemental course). This paper includes a discussion of how implementation was measured in order to gauge treatment fidelity and the service contrast between treatment and control schools. Data were collected to document the implementation of the online Algebra I course in treatment schools. Analyses of archived data from the online course management system and data from weekly proctor logs were used to gauge the amount and type of interaction between students, online teachers, and in-class proctors. Archived course data were used to measure students’ progress in and completion of the course. In control schools, classroom materials were collected and analyzed to contrast the amount of algebraic content taught in the general grade 8 mathematics classes that did not offer the online Algebra I course.

Virtual Algebra Study: Study Results
Presenters/Authors: Jessica Heppen (American Institutes for Research), Ann-Marie Faria (American Institutes for Research), Kirk Walters (American Institutes for Research), Nicholas Andrew Sorensen (American Institutes for Research)
Abstract: This paper describes results concerning the impact of the online Algebra I course on student outcomes, primarily the end-of-grade 8 algebra achievement and subsequent coursetaking patterns, for the algebra-ready (AR) students. The impact analyses for the primary research questions compare AR students in treatment schools (who were offered the online Algebra I course) with their counterparts in control schools (who were not offered the online Algebra I course and presumably took a general mathematics course). The impact analyses for research questions involving N-AR students compare N-AR students in treatment schools (where AR students were removed from the general class to take the online course) with their counterparts in control schools (where presumably both AR and N-AR students take a general mathematics course). All analyses of outcomes at the end of grade 8 were conducted separately for the AR and N–AR student samples; AR students were never compared with N–AR students. Analyses of the algebra and general mathematics posttests used hierarchical linear modeling (Raudenbush and Bryk 2002), accounting for the nesting of students within schools and controlling for student- and school-level covariates. Results will be reported both in their original metric and as effect sizes. The analyses of coursetaking sequences used hierarchical generalized linear models that assume a Bernoulli sampling distribution and logit link function (Raudenbush and Bryk 2002; McCullagh and Nelder 1998). These models, appropriate for use with binary outcomes, accounted for nesting of students within schools and included the same student- and school-level covariates as the models used for the achievement outcome measures. In addition to the main impact results, this paper will also describe the results of implementation analyses, including the extent to which participating students completed the course, the amount and type of interaction between online course participants and their teachers and proctors, and a contrasting of the course content with that of the mathematics courses offered in control schools. All analyses are completed. However, the results cannot be shared at this time because the report is currently under peer review in the Institute of Education Sciences. The final report is expected to be released fall of 2011, well before AERA. (REL-NEI is under contractual obligation to the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to publish the final report prior to December 31, 2011.)

Virtual Algebra Study: Implications and Discussion of Findings
Presenters/Authors: Peggy Clements (Education Development Center, Inc.), Cheryl M. Tobey (Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance), Ann-Marie Faria (American Institutes for Research)
Abstract: The fourth presentation for this session will be an interactive discussion among session attendees about the findings and implications of the study. The presenters will describe information collected after the conclusion of the evaluation regarding schools’ experience using an online course to broaden access to Algebra I, and whether that influenced their subsequent mathematics education practices and policies. The goal for this presentation is to generate engaging and lively discussion among session participants, based on feedback from participating schools that responds to the findings of the study and places them in context. In addition, we will generate further discussion of the findings regarding how the intervention was implemented and the longer-term feasibility of this type of educational intervention. The authors will present qualitative and quantitative data that describe feedback collected from participating schools between summer 2011 and winter 2012. Specifically, the feedback addresses the following questions: 1) Did schools choose to use the online Algebra I course for a second year? The study provided all participating schools with the option of using the online Algebra I course for two consecutive years, free of charge. Of the 35 treatment schools that received the course during the evaluation year (2008/09), only 24 of them chose to use the course for a second year and some of them registered fewer students than in the previous year. 2) Did schools elect to continue using an online course for students, and did they implement any changes in how the course was used? As part of our outreach to all participating schools when the report is published, we will conduct systematic interviews with nine participating principals that we will select to represent the range of schools that participated in the study. The interview will include questions about whether they continued to use an online course to provide access to Algebra I, whether they adopted any other online courses, and if their mathematics policies and practices have otherwise changed after participating in the project. 3) Do participating schools believe the study’s findings have implications for their educational practices? During the interviews, we will also ask respondents to discuss their views of the study’s implications for mathematics instructional practices in their school. Following the presentation of this feedback, the presenters will engage the session attendees in a broader discussion of the implications of the study findings, including limitations of the study and next steps for future research.

Saturday – April 14, 2012

2:15pm – 3:45pm

Using Action Research in Professional Development for Virtual School Educators: Exploring an Established Strategy in a New Context
Building/Room: Sheraton Wall Centre, Third Level – South Blue Whale
In Session: Virtual Education: Effective Learning Practices for Teachers and Students
Presenters/Authors: Nancy Fichtman Dana (University of Florida), Kara M. Dawson (University of Florida), Rachel Wolkenhauer (University of Florida), Desirae Eva Krell (University of Florida)
Abstract: This study explores the ways in which action research, an established professional development strategy in traditional schools, was implemented in a virtual school setting through a year-long case study of thirty virtual school educators coached by four experienced action research coaches. Data include participant artifacts, interviews, recorded web conferencing sessions and email communication between coaches and educators. Results suggest action research is a viable option for virtual school educators, however, the unique context of virtual schools requires new implementation strategies and makes possible new forms of inquiry. In addition, this study revealed insights into the functioning of virtual schools and the pedagogy and practice used by virtual school educators.

The Virtual Lab: An effective learning resource for secondary schools in rural Mexico
Building/Room: Sheraton Wall Centre, Third Level – South Blue Whale
In Session: Virtual Education: Effective Learning Practices for Teachers and Students
Presenters/Authors: Anette Julieta Frias-Zapata (ByCENECH), Eduardo Flores-Kastanis (Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua), Veronica Valenzuela-Muniz (IByCENECH), Karina Alejandra Cruz-Pallares (ByCENECH)
Abstract: Results are presented from a multiple case study in two rural communities in Northern Mexico where a “virtual lab” was used to teach chemistry in two different Secundarias (grades 7 through 9). The question addressed in the study is: What are the perceptions of Secundaria students on using a virtual lab to learn about chemistry? Results suggest that students are willing and able to use computers to learn. Students use computers for specific tasks, but also like to have time to explore what other things can be done. Interaction with peers increases when each student is able to work with a personal computer. Interaction is mainly task-oriented to learn more about chemistry and more on how the virtual lab works.

4:05pm – 5:35pm

Setting the Standard: Quality Control for K-12 Online Learning
Building/Room: Vancouver Convention Centre, First Level – East Ballroom B In Session: Online Teaching and Learning
Presenters/Authors: Jason B. Huett (The University of West Georgia), Kimberley Huett (The University of West Georgia), Ravic Ringlaben (The University of West Georgia)
Abstract: Using an explanatory mixed methods design, this study employed specifically adapted online course quality survey instruments as well as technologies such as VoiceThread and Jing to conduct extensive reviews of on online courses in a blended middle school and a fully online high school to determine if teachers were designing quality online learning environments for students. Quantitative analysis measured five standards for all online courses: content, instructional design, student assessment, technology, and 21st century skills. Qualitative analysis examined data from the audio and textual presentations and stakeholder interviews. The study was conducted over two years, first as an initial pilot study and then an adjusted full-scale experiment. Findings from both studies are presented as well as a comparison between findings.

Supervision, Student Teaching, and the Virtual Classroom
Building/Room: Vancouver Convention Centre, Second Level – West Room 222
In Session: Behind Closed Doors: Student Teaching, Supervision, and Curricular Goals
Presenters/Authors: Kathryn M. Kennedy (Georgia Southern University), Leanna Matchett Archambault (Arizona State University)
Abstract: Objectives and Perspectives: Nearly all US state now offer on-line learning to their students (Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, & Rapp, 2010). This growth is spurring the need for preservice teachers to prepare for teaching in virtual environments (Archambault, 2011). Recent studies have explored how training for preservice teachers can occur in K-12 online learning (Kennedy & Archambault, 2011; Kennedy, Cavanaugh, & Dawson, 2011; Compton, Davis, & Mackey, 2009). A recent national survey of teacher education programs (Kennedy & Archambault, 2011) found that only 1.3% of programs offer preservice teachers field experiences in online learning programs. Two studies (Compton, Davis, and Mackey , 2009; Kennedy, Cavanaugh, & Dawson, 2011) have looked at experiences where STs are matched with experienced K-12 online instructors, and these experiences provide ST a glimpse of what it is like to teach students online. Methods: We examined case studies that highlight how powerful mentoring experiences with experienced online instructors create an learning opportunities for STs. Questions are answered in the case studies include: How does communication work? How does this medium affect mentoring relationships? Because virtual school models vary widely, what are essential elements of a mentoring program? How are mentors trained? What are structures of mentoring programs? How are relationships nurtured? Who ensures the experience is successful? How is mentoring defined? What are activities that are required by both mentor and mentee? How are the mentors and mentees matched? These questions are explored to offer guidance and insight into how such mentoring models operate in K-12 online learning environments. Results: Initial findings included multiple models of mentoring. Some K-12 online learning programs are small and only have a limited number of administrators and experienced teachers who help with new teacher mentoring. Because of this, instead of offering a robust, formally structured mentoring program, they provide more just-in-time, as-needed mentoring. Other case studies include large state-level virtual schools that offer structured mentoring programs for their new teachers. Some of the new teachers in these schools have two to three mentors. These mentors may include a content-specific mentor, a grade-level mentor, and an additional mentor who is outside of their grade and content area, providing the new teacher with a more global perspective of the school. Significance: The field of K-12 online learning is relatively new, compared to the education field at large. Taking that into consideration, mentoring pre-service and newly-hired teachers in the K-12 online learning environments has not been explored nearly to the extent that it has in traditional settings. While much can be learned from exploring the plethora of literature on mentoring in traditional schools, it is important to look at how mentoring translates in the online learning environment. Vignettes of select K-12 online programs have been presented in a research brief published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) (Wortmann, Cavanaugh, Kennedy, Beldarrain, Letourneau, & Zygouris-Coe, 2008) and additional examples will soon be highlighted in a book sponsored by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (Kennedy & Archambault, accepted).

Effects of Kentucky Virtual Schools’ Hybrid Program for Algebra I on Math Achievement: Final Report
Building/Room: Vancouver Convention Centre, First Level – East Ballroom B
In Session: Mathematics Curriculum and Instructional Practice
Presenters/Authors: Linda Cavalluzzo (CNA Education), Deborah Lowther (The University of Memphis), Christine Mokher (CNA), Xitao Fan (University of Macau)
Abstract: This study quantifies the effectiveness of an intervention that combines online instruction with face-to-face classroom teaching to increase student achievement in grade 9 Algebra I. The Kentucky-based RCT uses a two-cohort sample of 47 high schools (24 treatment and 23 control) to generate a randomized sample that comprises almost 7,000 students from mostly rural schools. The study uses two-level hierarchical models to assess differences in outcomes between the treatment and control schools. The first outcome measure is students’ scores on the pre-algebra/algebra portion of the PLAN test and the second is students’ subsequent math course enrollment in the post-intervention year. The analysis also examines how the impact of the hybrid program varies by gender and school locale.

Monday – April 16, 2012

8:15am – 10:15am

The Contributions of On-Site Facilitators to Teaching Presence in a Blended Learning Environment
Building/Room: Sheraton Wall Centre, Fourth Level – North Port McNeill
In Session: Online Teaching and Learning: Community of Inquiry Research
Presenters/Authors: Julie Thompson Keane (VIF International Education), Claire de la Varre (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill), Matthew J. Irvin (University of South Carolina)
Abstract: This study examines on-site facilitators’ self-reports of their practices and activities intended to support high school students taking an online course. A qualitative analysis of end-of-course interview data with on-site facilitators was undertaken. The resulting themes that emerged from the data were mapped onto the teaching presence element of the Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). While online instructors perceived that the core activity of the on-site facilitator was facilitating discourse, facilitators’ self-reports made it apparent that they were involved in instructional design and direct instruction to a greater degree, and through a wider range of activities, than online instructors were aware of. Additional findings, implications, limitations, and research directions are discussed.

10:35am – 12:05pm

Counting a Dominant Narrative of Educational Reformers: Examining the Research on the Effectiveness of Virtual Schooling
Building/Room: Sheraton Wall Centre, Third Level – North Junior Ballroom C
In Session: Online Teaching and Learning in K-12 Environments
Presenter/Author: Michael Kristopher Barbour (Wayne State University)
Abstract: This proposal examines the rhetoric used by proponents of educational reform and the use of online learning as a solution for K-12 education. Using the research into K-12 online learning, I argue that those educational reformers use methodologically flawed research or promote an inaccurate understanding of research results to promote a corporate agenda in K-12 online learning. The proposed session will examine the limited amount of research into virtual schooling in an effort to better understand what this research indicates about the effectiveness of K-12 online learning.

An Exploratory Study of the Role of Teaching Experience in Motivation and Academic Achievement in a Virtual Ninth-Grade English I Course
Building/Room: Sheraton Wall Centre, Third Level – North Junior Ballroom C
In Session: Online Teaching and Learning in K-12 Environments
Presenters/Authors: Julia Kathryn Carpenter (University of Florida), Cathy Cavanaugh (University of Florida)
Abstract: This paper explores differences in Keller’s ARCS motivational constructs in virtual ninth grade English I students based on instructor experience, and the perceived instructional practices that contribute to motivation in the course. Quantitative data were student responses to the Course Interest Survey (CIS) of novice teachers with 1-5 years experience teaching language arts and experienced teachers with 6 or more years experience. Qualitative data were collected via survey to assess student perceptions of ARCS constructs in the course, and their assessment of motivating course design and instructor practices. On the CIS, there were no differences in Attention and Relevance scores between students of novice and experienced teachers, but there were significant differences in Confidence and Satisfaction scores between the groups.

The Nature of Adolescent Learner Interaction in a Virtual High School Setting
Building/Room: Sheraton Wall Centre, Third Level – North Junior Ballroom C
In Session: Online Teaching and Learning in K-12 Environments
Presenters/Authors: Jered Borup (Brigham young University), Charles R. Graham (Brigham Young University), Randall S. Davies (Brigham Young University)
Abstract: The characteristics of today’s K-12 students make interaction in an online context especially important. Unfortunately, the majority of research addressing the topic has been conducted in university settings, and the difference in the context and student characteristics prevents generalizations from adult to adolescent learners. To address this gap, this study measured the effect of learners’ interactions with content, peers, and instructors on several course outcomes in a virtual high school situation. The large majority of students viewed all investigated types of interaction as educational and motivational. Nine significant correlations were found involving course outcomes and the time students spent on interactions with their peers and course instructor.

2:15pm – 3:45pm

Primary and Secondary Virtual Learning in New Zealand: Examining the Process of Achieving Maturity
Building/Room: Sheraton Wall Centre, Fourth Level – South Galiano
In Session: Affordances, Constraints, and Consequences of Technology Integration
Presenters/Authors: Michael Kristopher Barbour (Wayne State University), Derek Wenmoth (Core Education Ltd), Niki Davis (University of Canterbury)
Abstract: This proposal describes a study into the development of virtual learning in New Zealand, specifically the obstacles that e-learning clusters face or have faced in their journey to sustainability and maturity through the lens of the Learning Communities Online Handbook. Using a variety of data collection methods, the researchers identified three common barriers, including a lack of a coherent vision, difficulty in securing the necessary funding and resources, and a lack of collaboration and cooperation within and between clusters. Based on these findings, it is recommended that individual e-learning clusters develop specific strategies to encourage greater collaboration between clusters and work towards greater consistency between their activities, including professional and organizational development and also of the approaches to virtual learning.

4:05pm – 5:35pm

A Case Study Examining the Perspectives of an At-Risk, Rural Student Enrolled in Virtual Schooling
Building/Room: Vancouver Convention Centre, Second Level – East Room 18
In Session: Rural Education and Youth
Presenters/Authors: Michael Kristopher Barbour (Wayne State University), Jason Paul Siko (Wayne State University)
Abstract: A large population of virtual schooling students are defined as “at-risk.” However, there is little research that focuses on the experiences of these students. This case study, based on interviews and video observations of an at-risk, rural student enrolled in an online course, brings light to some of these experiences. The student was good at prioritizing, often took the path of least resistance to achieve the minimum level of expectations, and demonstrated waning productivity during class. The student was also able to clearly express his thoughts on what was needed to succeed in an online course. As more rural students have to learn online, it is important to better understand how to design, deliver and support virtual schooling.

Tuesday – April 17, 2012

12:25pm – 1:55pm

Does Prior Distance Learning Make a Difference? Examining Student Perceptions and Preferences
Building/Room: Vancouver Convention Centre, First Level – East Ballroom B
In Session: Online Learners’ Strategies, Attitudes, and Behaviors
Presenters/Authors: Dale Kirby (Memorial University), Michael Kristopher Barbour (Wayne State University), Dennis B. Sharpe (Memorial University)
Abstract: K-12 online learning has grown substantially. While there are many reasons for this growth, some proponents argue K-12 students need to engage in online learning to prepare them for future learning opportunities that will inevitably be online. In a case study, students who had completed at least one distance education course were surveyed during their first and fourth year of post-secondary studies. We found self-regulatory learning behaviors frequently linked to positive experiences and outcomes in online and distance education courses were equally apparent in all of the participating university students regardless of whether or not they had previously studied online. These findings suggest high school students do not gain independent learning skills and attitudes through learning in an online environment.

Again, if you know of ones that I have missed, please leave them below as a comment.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,512 other followers

%d bloggers like this: