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[1] Author, Date, Paper Title and Reviewers
Author(s): Arbaugh, J. B.
Year: 2010
Full Title: How Classroom Environment and Student Engagement Affect Learning in Internet-based MBA Courses
Reviewer(s): Y. Zhang

[2] Theories/Concepts
computer-mediated interaction, Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)
Interaction in Internet-based Courses: (1) learner-to-instructor; (2) learner-to-learner; (3) learner-to-content; and learner-to-interface

[3] Study Design
A survey over class sections conducted using Lotus LearningSpace course software in the MBA program of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1999.

[4] Class Size [5] Grade Level [6] Institution(s) [7] M/F Ratio
Not available MBA University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Not Available

[8] Subjects
All students who tool Internet-based MBA courses in 1999. The response rate was 71.5% (97 of 128)

[9] Study Methods [10] Media
Survey
AsynchronousConferencing
other

[11] Hypothesis
Research Questions:
(1) Can graduate business students learn effectively via the Internet?
(2) What factors are most likely to influence student learning in Internet-based MBA courses?
The author identified four general factors that may influence student learning in Internet-based courses:
(1) the perceived usefulness and ease of use of the course Website;
(2) the level of educational flexibility for students and faculty as a result of the asynchronous nature of these courses;
(3) the ease of and emphasis on interaction as teaching pedagogy;
(4) student experience with and engagement in Internet-based courses.

[12] Measures of Dependent Variables
Unless otherwise mentioned, each was measured using seven-point Likert-type scales.
  • Student learning was measured using Alavi's (1994) six-item scale.
  • The variables in the TAM (Perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of a technology): modified previously used scales by having them refer specifically to the LearningSpace software package.
  • measured perceived flexibility with an eight-item scale used in recent studies of Internet-based courses (Arbaugh, 2010a) focusing on the course's format and their ability to arrange their involvement in the course around work, family, and travel. Factor analysis of these items identified two variables: (1) course flexibil-ity,or the ability to arrange the work of the individual course around other activities; and (2) program flexibility, or the ability to arrange the course to serve a student's needs to complete the entire degree program.
  • measured interaction with eleven items that assessed learner-interface, learner-learner and learner-instructor interaction (Hill-manet al., 1994; Thach & Murphy, 1995). The factor analysis of these items identified three variables: (1) Instructor emphasis on interaction; (2) ease of interaction,which focused on the lack of difficulty of participating in and following class discussions; (3) classroom dynamics
  • measured student engagement in Internet-based courses by calculating the amount of time students spent on the course Web-site.
  • used gender, student age and the number of Internet-based courses the student had taken prior to participating in this study as control variables.

[13] Results
  • students in the study generally had a fairly high level of perceived learning.
  • A moderate relationships between age and perceived learning and gender and perceived learning.
  • In the full model, the only variables that are significantly associated with learning are the three variables for interaction: instructor emphasis on interaction, ease of interaction,and classroom dynamics.

[14] Comments/Conclusions
Findings by Author:
(1) Students report relatively high levels of perceived learning.
(2) Elements of an interactive teaching style were strongly associated with that learning.

Christopher Isham is VP, Washington Bureau Chief at CBS News