Category Archives: Teaching Online

Are we identifying and assessing the right outcomes for the 21st century?

I attended the Pearsons Global Research Conference  in Perth last month, which brought together educators from around the globe to discuss the role of technology and assessment in system wide improvement. In the past we have viewed assessment as a tool but there is a shift in viewing assessment as a tool for learning at system, school and student level.  A 21st century curriculum requires a 21st century approach to assessment, that is, assessment that provides insight not only into student learning but informs teacher instruction.

In his paper ‘Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform‘,  Michael Fullan states that critical thinking and reasoning, problem solving, collaboration, communication, digital base learning and citizenship will become the ‘new average’ for the rest of the century.  The challenge for us is not only how we design assessments that enable students to apply and -reapply ‘the new average’ to tasks in order to understand…

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Using an Online Homework Manager

Accounting faculty know that completing the homework helps students learn accounting concepts and that students who exert more effort on homework assignments perform better on exams. Completion of homework helps to build students’ cognitive abilities, a skill that is highlighted in the Accounting Education Change Commission recommendations. In its report, the Commission suggests that motivated students are more likely to engage in activities which challenge and build their cognitive abilities. So what is the connection between motivation and the improvement of cognitive abilities? How can we help students to (a) be motivated to learn; and (b) improve their cognitive abilities? Can technology help us to do this?

Efforts to use technology to engage students and to help them learn content are increasing. While there are numerous technologies possible for students, I am currently working to develop a model to measure the impact of online homework management systems on student performance. Online homework management systems provide students the opportunity to practice working problems while receiving immediate feedback and online support via videos, problem demonstrations, and other multimedia aids. Instructors may structure the course so that students may resubmit homework problems, giving them the opportunity to keep trying until they get it right.

Because the use of online homework management systems is relatively new, little research has been done on its effectiveness. In a study of beginning accounting students, Peng (2009) examines how a student’s intrinsic motivation to learn the concepts (Need for Cognition), perception of the interactivity of the online homework manager, and computer efficacy impact the student’s usage of the homework management system. My work expands the work of Peng to build a model that includes additional theories and factors that may impact student use of the online homework management system. Additionally, the model developed will measure the impact of student usage of an online homework management system on student performance.

Basically, the model could study the following research questions:

  • What factors motivate students to use an online homework management system?
  • What factors contribute to a student’s satisfaction with an online homework management system?
  • How does a student’s intent to use the online homework management system impact his/her actual usage?
  • Does the use of an online homework management system affect student performance on exams?

Peng, J. (2009). Using an online homework system to submit accounting homework: Role of cognitive need, computer efficacy, and perception. Journal of Education for Business,  (May/June), pp. 263-268.

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Teaching Project Management/Working in Teams

I have been thinking quite a bit about this topic of holding student’s responsible for their own learning. I had a recent experience with an undergraduate class of seniors that is making me really think about revisions I need to make to the course for future semesters. My expectations of the students in the course seem reasonable to me. I expected them to take it upon themselves to learn the basics about the concepts presented in the course by reading the text, practicing the application of the concepts through the use of the online homework manager, and also to research the topics beyond what the textbook offered. I provided links to websites, YouTube videos, databases, etc.

The class was divided into teams of 4-5 students. Each team was to support one another, discuss the topics with each other to help them learn the concepts. Then, as a team, they were to complete some type of activity that applied the concepts in the unit. The team activities were case studies, a debate, drafting a memo with recommendations to solve a problem, etc. Additionally, the teams were not to complete the team activity until all members of the team had completed the individual learning activities in the unit (ex/pr in the online homework manager, discussions, etc.).

At the beginning of the class, the teams met and decided on a schedule of the completion of the coursework. This is where the problems began. While some students jumped into the discussion forums and set up their teams before the semester even began, others seemed paralyzed by this and took the entire first week to establish their teams. The late-comers found it very difficult to communicate and devise a schedule for completion of the work. The teams that struggled in the very beginning struggled throughout the course.

I know that these graduates will be expected to work in teams and to manage projects in the workplace; therefore, this seems to me a worthwhile thing to teach them. But how do I communicate the importance of this skill to students? How do I incorporate this into a class with better results? How do I motivate students to work in teams?

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