An Analysis of Interactions and Outcomes Associated with an Online Professional Development Course for Science Teachers

David E. Randle
This mixed-methods study examined the interactions and learning outcomes of science teachers in an online graduate-level course on evolutionary biology intended to improve their content knowledge and science lesson planning. Discussion posts made by the teachers in this seven-week course were analyzed for cognitive presence using the Community of Inquiry framework. Compared to other studies examining cognitive presence, high levels of Integration level cognitive activity were observed (47% of
more » ... tal posts). This was most likely due to the design of the discussion prompts and expectations used to frame student participation. The questions were open-ended, and students were expected to use reference materials to construct their responses. During the course, 395 student posts contained statements that could be coded for scientific accuracy. Of these, 85% were coded as scientifically accurate. This reinforces reports from previous literature that the online environment is conducive to reflective and careful contributions by participants.As the course progressed, the number of faculty posts per discussion declined, while the number of student posts remained relatively constant. Student-to-student posts increased in frequency as faculty participation dropped. The number of student posts increased towards the end of each two-week discussion period, however the frequencies of posts with scientifically accurate statements and Integration level cognitive activity remained relatively constant over this same period. The increase in total posts was due to the increase in other types of communication in the discussions. Case study analysis was used to examine patterns of online behavior in three participants who achieved different course grades. A low-performing student had a pattern of intermittent activity, made low numbers of posts in each discussion, and had low percentages of posts that contained scientific statements or indicators of Integration level cognitive activity compared to classmates. A medium-performing learner [...]
doi:10.7916/d8hx1kw2 fatcat:vqr6tekbfbh4zn2y2yvud5thjy