Student participation and grade performance in an undergraduate online learning environment

V. KunhiMohamed, Balkeese Binti, author
Gloeckner, Gene W., advisor
Makela, Carole J., committee member
Timpson, William M., committee member
Cranston, Catherine L., committee member
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This study explored learning and teaching of online classes. Examining the relationship between undergraduate students' participation and their final grades in five selected courses in an online learning environment and exploring differences between the demographics characteristics of age, race, and gender to students' participation (total number of messages posted and total access) and grade performance were the important focus of the study. The population of this study was undergraduate students enrolled at Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-GC) in the years 2010 and 2011. Specifically, it was determined that the appropriate population for this study included all undergraduate students enrolled in one or more of the five core courses. This study took a quantitative, non-experimental approach to the collection and analysis of data. The study employed an associational research design (association questions) and between-groups or within subjects design (difference questions). Statistical analyses used were Spearman Rho correlation, Kruskal-Wallis tests and Mann-Whitney Utests. Students who posted more messages on the discussion forums tended to have higher course grades, rs(1,027) = .32, p = .001; there was a positive correlation between the variables, with a medium or typical effect size or correlation. The more a student accessed the discussion board over the eight weeks of the course the higher the final grade, rs (1,027) = .35, p = .001; thus r = .35 and the effect size was medium or typical. Age was positively correlated with total number of messages posted, rs(1,011) = .27, p = .001 and total access rs (1,011) = .27, p = .001; these are small effect sizes. The positive correlation between age and grade was rs (1,011) = .15, p = .001; this is a small effect size. As students' ages increased, they had a correlation with earning higher grades compared to younger students. Older students more frequently posted comments on discussion boards. There were no significant differences among the three race groups, White, Black or African American, and Asian on total number of messages posted, X2 (2, 842) = 2.09, p = .351; on total access, X2 (2, 842) = 1.57, p = .455; and on grade performance, X2 (2, 842) = 3.50, p = .174. There was a significant difference in the mean ranks of males (437.84) and females (505.85) on total number of messages posted, U = 95,552, p = .001, r = .12, a small effect size. Also, the 496 female students had a little higher mean ranks (493.37) than the 450 males (451.59) on Total Access, U = 101,742.5, p = .019, r = -.076, with a very small or smaller than typical effect size. There were no statistically differences in mean of males (485.37) and females (462.73) with respect to final grades, U = 106,257, p = .180, r = .044. Significant differences were found among the five core courses on total number of messages posted, X2 (2, 1029) = 96.76, p = .001; and on total access, X2 (2, 1029) = 104.23, p = .001. Yet, there was no significant difference between the five core courses on grade performance, X2 (2, 1029) = 4.05, p = .399. This study would benefit online institutions, online/distance instructors, decision makers at all levels of higher education, and online students. The implications for practices, barriers to e-learning, on-going support by government, limitations of the study, and recommendations for research were discussed.
2012 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights Access
higher education
student participation
online learning
distance education
distance learning
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