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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. With the rapid growth of online learning at community colleges and the low course completion and performance associated with it, there has been increasing need to identify effective ways to address the challenges in online teaching and learning at this particular setting. Based on open-ended survey responses from 105 instructors and 365 students from multiple community colleges in a state, this study examined instructors’ and students’ perceptions of effective and ineffective instructional practices and changes needed in online coursework. By combining structural topic modelling techniques with human coding, we identified instructional practices that were perceived by both instructors and studentsmore »as effective in supporting online learning as well as ineffective and needing improvement. Moreover, we identified a handful of misalignments between instructors and students in their perceptions of online teaching, including course workload and effective ways to communicate.« less
  3. An extensive theoretical and empirical literature stresses the challenges of online learning, especially among students enrolled in open-access institutions who often struggle more due to job and family commitments and a lack of self-regulated learning skills. As online expansion continues in higher education, understanding the specific challenges students encounter in online coursework, and learning strategies that can help them cope with these challenges, can provide valuable insights to be widely shared. Using open-ended survey data collected from 365 students at a state community college system, this study examined students’ perceptions of challenges of online learning that may lead to undesirablemore »learning outcomes and specific strategies they found effective in addressing these challenges. We combined structural topic modeling and human coding in analyzing student responses. Three sets of challenges—including insufficient time management skills, greater tendencies of multitasking and being distracted in an online learning environment, and ineffective interaction and frustrations with help-seeking—emerged from student responses. In response to these challenges, students reflected on ways to improve online learning experiences and outcomes, including improving time management skills, maintaining an organized and distraction-free study environment, proactively seeking help, and using study strategies to improve learning effectiveness.« less
  4. To understand instruction during the spring 2020 transition to emergency distance learning (EDL), we surveyed a sample of instructors teaching undergraduate EDL courses at a large university in the southwest. We asked them how frequently they used and how confident they were in their ability to implement each of nine promising practices, both for their spring 2020 EDL course and a time when they previously taught the same course face-to-face (F2F). Using latent class analysis, we examined how behavioral frequencies and confidence clustered to form meaningful groups of instructors, how these groups differed across F2F and EDL contexts, and whatmore »predicted membership in EDL groupings. Results suggest that in the EDL context, instructors fell into one of three profiles in terms of how often they used promising practices: Highly Supportive, Instructor Centered, and More Detached. When moving from the F2F to EDL context, instructors tended to shift “down” in terms of their profile—for example, among F2F Highly Supportive instructors, 34% shifted to the EDL Instructor Centered profile and 30% shifted to the EDL More Detached Profile. Instructors who reported lower self-efficacy for EDL practices were also more likely to end up in the EDL More Detached profile. These results can assist universities in understanding instructors' needs in EDL, and what resources, professional development, and institutional practices may best support instructor and student experiences.« less
  5. Developmental education is the most widespread strategies used by colleges to provide academically weak students with additional training in key subject areas. To reduce costs and also to address the large volume of enrollment in these courses, many institutions have replaced traditional face-to-face instruction with online instruction in developmental coursework. This paper examines the impact of fully online instruction, compared with traditional face-to-face instruction, on both concurrent developmental course outcomes, and on downstream outcomes, using a unique administrative dataset from a state community college system that includes longitudinal student-unit record data from more than 40,000 students enrolled in developmental educationmore »courses. Results from a two-way fixed effects model that controls for selection both at the course- and student-level indicate that taking one’s first developmental course through the online format reduces developmental course completion rate by 13 percentage points and subsequent enrollment in the gatekeeper course by 7 percentage points.« less
  6. Little is known regarding the use of, and factors related with, interaction-oriented practices. In this study we investigate instructors’ use of interaction-oriented practices in online college courses. We begin by drawing on several strands of literature to offer a person-purpose interaction framework for categorizing interaction-oriented practices. The framework’s six sub-domains integrate for whom students are interacting (instructor, student, content) with the interaction’s pedagogical purpose (academic, social, managerial). Subsequently, we examine factors that predict instructors’ use of these six domains of practices, including instructors’ characteristics and their perceptions of online learning, using a sample of (n = 126) community college instructorsmore »teaching online courses. The results show that instructors using more interaction-oriented practices consistently have greater employment status and teaching load, greater self-efficacy for using learning management systems, and greater perceived benefits of online learning for students, with subtle distinctions found across sub-domains. The findings have several implications for future research examining pedagogical behavior, as well as the design of professional development activities aimed at enhancing the use of effective online instructional practices among college instructors.« less
  7. In the past two decades, one of the most important trends in the US higher education system has been the steady increase in distance education through online courses. College administrators have expressed strong support for online education, signaling that the current online expansion will likely continue. While the supply and demand for online higher education is rapidly expanding, questions remain regarding its potential impact on increasing access, reducing costs, and improving student outcomes. Does online education enhance access to higher education among students who would not otherwise enroll in college? Can online courses create savings for students by reducing fundingmore »constraints on postsecondary institutions? Will technological innovations improve the quality of online education? This chapter provides a comprehensive review of existing research on online learning’s impact on access, cost, and student performance in higher education. Our review suggests that online education has the potential to expand access to college, especially among adult learners with multiple responsibilities. Yet, the online delivery format imposes additional challenges to effective instruction and learning. Indeed, existing studies on college courses typically find negative effects of online delivery on course outcomes and the online performance decrement is particularly large among academically less-prepared students. As a result, online courses without strong support to students may exacerbate educational inequities. We discuss a handful of practices that could better support students in online courses, including strategic course offering, student counseling, interpersonal interaction, warning and monitoring, and the professional development of faculty. Yet, college administrative data suggests that high-quality online courses with high degrees of instructor interaction and student support cost more to develop and administer than do face-to-face courses.« less
  8. This online course quality rubric was developed to provide a systematic and descriptive benchmark for researchers and practitioners who are striving to develop a culture of high-quality college-level online courses. This rubric differentiates itself from others as it identifies the unique challenges associated with learning in a virtual environment and provides concrete details of how to optimize the design features and instructional practices to ease the challenges. Practitioners and researchers increasingly acknowledge two critical challenges to successful online teaching and learning: the need for stronger self-directed learning skills and greater difficulties in enabling effective interpersonal interactions. These challenges call formore »the importance of better scaffolding the self-directed learning skills necessary for online success as well as providing clear guidance to navigate the learning process, promoting student agency to engage students actively throughout their learning, and improving presence & interactivity intentionally and visibly. Recognizing the critical role of these three concepts in addressing the unique challenges of online learning, this rubric intends to explain how a particular course component (e.g., learning objective) can be designed to address these concepts.« less