Exploring the Effectiveness of Three Different Course Delivery Methods in Online and Distance Education

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Barry Cartwright and Sheri Fabian, School of Criminology

Project team: Rahul Sharma and Aynsley Pescitelli, research assistants

Timeframe: September 2013 to June 2014

Funding: $10,000  

Courses addressed:

  • CRIM 103 – Psychological Explanations of Criminal and Deviant Behavior
  • CRIM 104 – Sociological Explanations of Criminal and Deviant Behavior
  • CRIM 131 – Introduction to the Criminal Justice System – A Total Systems Approach

Final report: View Barry Cartwright's final project report (PDF)

Description: In this two phase project, we aim to evaluate the effectiveness  of three online courses in the School of Criminology, offered through the Center for Online and Distance Education. Our overall goal is to identify best practices and potential improvements to online delivery of these courses, to inform and support current and future re-designs, and to support student learning, satisfaction, and engagement. In the first phase, we will conduct a literature review to examine best practices in (and measures of) online course learning components (e.g., asynchronous discussions, online lectures, games, quizzes), to inform our survey design and measures. In the second phase, we will conduct an online survey of students enrolled in the three online courses being studied. Our survey will assess students’ overall experiences with and perceptions of the online courses, and students’ experiences with and perceptions of the various learning components used in the courses examined, including their effectiveness, user-friendliness, helpfulness, effects on engagement, actual usage, and suggested improvements. We will also compare online experiences with traditional offline and/or blended instruction by asking students to compare their experiences between these modalities.

Questions addressed:

  • How can we best collect (and assess) evidence of the effectiveness of the learning components of the online courses (asynchronous discussions, interactive exercises/games, quizzes, audio-visual instruction)?
  • Do students report that participation in asynchronous online discussion groups improves their learning outcomes?  If not, do students at least report that online discussion increases their enjoyment or sense of engagement in the learning process?
  • What do students say about the effectiveness of interactive exercises/educational video games? How do student reports of effectiveness compare with learning outcomes?
  • Which quiz formats did students find offered the best insight into whether or not they had met the learning objectives? How do student perceptions of performance quizzes compare with their actual performance?
  • What benefit do students report deriving from online audio-visual instruction designed specifically for the course (e.g., mini-lectures, or Webcasts)?
  • Are learning outcomes (e.g., understanding of content, clear presentation of materials, links to course themes and critical analysis, facilitation of discussion, etc.) demonstrated in the online presentations in CRIM 131?
  • Are learning outcomes (e.g., critical thinking skills and engagement with course materials) demonstrated in the CRIM 131 on-line discussions?

Knowledge sharing:

Cartwright, B., & Fabian, S. (2014, October). Exploring the effectiveness of three course delivery methods in online and distance education. Presentation at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Nurturing Passion and Creativity in Teaching and Learning, Quebec City, QC.  

Cartwright, B., & Fabian, S. (2014, May). Exploring the effectiveness of three course delivery methods in online and distance education. Presentation at the Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Provocative Pedagogy, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.  

Cartwright, B., & Fabian, S. (2014, May). Student perceptions of and experiences with traditional and non-traditional tutorial formats: results of an online survey on regular session, iClicker and online tutorials. Presentation at the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, at the Congress 2014 of the Humanities and Social Sciences,St. Catherines, ON.

Fabian, S., Pescitelli, A., & Sharma, R. (2014, October). Evaluating asynchronous discussion in on-line and blended learning courses. Presentation at the 2014 ISSOTL International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference, Quebec City, QC.