Developing a Sense of Classroom Community in an Online Graduate Biology Course: Attempting to replicate the in-person classroom experience
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine ways that can replicate, as much as possible, the sense of community that can develop in an in-person class, in a non-synchronous, online graduate biology course, that used Canvas as its LMS. The course was designed with seven instructor ”best practices” in mind, as stated in Bailey and Card (2009). To determine how these best-practices affected students’ views of the online course and determine if there were other aspects they felt could aid in making an online environment a more cohesive community of learners. We collected data in this qualitative, phenomenological study, of students’ perceptions of their experiences in the course, which included an anonymous survey modified from Picciano (2002), that was measured in a Likert scale, of agreement about their views of the course and a free response portion, where students could add comments without any guiding questions. Also, students participated in a focus group after the course. The findings of this study showed that students felt like they interacted more often with fellow students and the instructor, but they did not feel that quality of interaction was increased, in relation to an in-person class. In addition, students wanted more opportunities for unstructured interaction, where they could discuss aspects of learning and class topics in an informal/non-graded format. Future iterations of the course will incorporate the CN Post tool to allow for this interaction.
Presider: Rebecca Callaway, Arkansas Tech University