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Principles, Theories, & Models

Reflection

EDTEC650 Artifact:
EDTEC 650 Assessing Teaching Presence in Computer Conference: Literature Review

Related Artifacts:
Proposal; Presentation;Research Paper


Go to EDTEC 650 Assignments website


I conducted a research on teaching presence in computer conferences during my enrollment in EDTEC 650 – Distance Education. Since I worked alone and time was constrained, the instructor suggested that I focus on delivery of a thorough literature review. I did as my instructor suggested; however, I continued the study after the semester was over and have completed the full research paper in the following semester. To complete the assignment I studied several related theories, principles, and models. Some of them were selected and applied to my studies.

Project Description

Purpose of the assignment was to investigate a contemporary subject in distance education by reviewing the current literature on the subject. Since EDTEC 650 required students to study the subject, distance education, from theories point of view, I began my assignment by studying articles and papers from masters in the field such as Michael Moore, Borje Holmberg, Otto Peters, and Randy Garrison. Theories from these works such as “transactional distance”, “didactic teaching-learning conversations”, and “community of inquiry” all dealed with effectiveness of teaching in distance education. The findings inspired my interest in learning more about teaching effectiveness.

After further study, I found that quite a few researchers has discussed "teaching presence", a subtopic of effective teaching from distance, in depth. The frameworks they used for discussing the topic were different, yet, similar in some points. This interesting finding resulted in my decision of choosing teaching presence as my research topic. My intention was to study on how teaching presence in computer conference could be assessed.

To find appropriate literatures, I searched over several sources including:
  • Eric
  • EDIT/Lib
  • Google Scholar
  • Internet search results

  • From the above sources, I collected the first collection of articles and papers. I studied and found more related articles and papers from the bibliographies of the first collection. By the time I completed the literature review, I had twenty articles or papers in my References section.

    Key points of my literature review were:
  • theoretical frameworks the researchers based on;
  • the coding scheme used in the research such as the categories, indicators, etc.; and
  • conclusions of the research.

  • While writing the literature review, I used several skills to gain insight into the articles and papers, including:
  • considered the time impact of each article or paper. For example, Flanders’ interaction analysis was a product of 1967. Herri’s five dimensions for analyzing computer-mediated communication was published in 1992. Garrison’s community of inquiry model was announced around 2000. I took it into the consideration how the time period influenced the methodology used and the conclusions made.
  • Using tables to compare and contrast key elements of different research so that the similarities and the differences would stand out.



  • Demonstrating Principles, Theories, & Models Standard

    I have demonstrated mastery of the theories, principles and models standard, "Understand many theories and models, choose from among them appropriately, and apply them effectively", by interpreting ideas conveyed by the literature and by writing a professional literature review. In order to learn about the weakness and strength of each framework and indicators for assessing teaching presence, I examined more than twenty articles, grouped them into categories, inferred the meanings between lines, sketched major ideas with tables, and organized my findings through review writing.

    Problems & Opportunities Encountered

    The main problem I encountered while conducting the research was to know when to stop searching for more literature. In the beginning, I had to dig hard in order to find the first five articles or papers. The process speeded up quickly, after I could identify the useful references to new articles and papers from the literature on hand. I decided that I should stop when references themselves began to repeat and when the similarities, the differences, and the models appeared to be clearer to me.

    Another problem is the time and resource constraint. Each literature referred to more than one previous study. Although I had several sources to search for the archived articles and papers, it was not very often that I could locate the full texts as I wished. Some literature were sections of published books that I could not find in the local libraries; and some literature were missing from the repositories that I could access.

    The other problem I encountered was the vast amount of research on the subject. Every research was based on the finding of another research. It was necessary to understand what I read both inductively and deductively; it led to an endless search for evidence to support my understanding.

    Despite these difficulties, completing this assignment provided me with opportunities to read over many theories regarding distance education. Some of them connected to perspectives about teaching and learning online; others were about practices of research methodologies. I was able to analyze and synthesize those theories, principles and models that I had studied up to that point. Although I might not have absorbed the knowledge correctly, they would surely provide guidance for my future study and research.
               

    Lessons Learned

    Upon reflection, I found that I learned the following lessons from the assignment:
  • Theories are necessary. Theories provide broad overviews which help people see models or patterns as well as tie together scattered objects and make clear connections between elements. Theories empower our ability to anticipate the unknown.
  • Applying theories in real problems is the best way to examine the maturity level of the theories. Unless you apply a theory to a real life problem, you may not be able to discover imperfections of the coding scheme which can exist in a theoretical framework.
  • Reading skills are important for conducting a literature review. Good reading skills help reviewers catch key points of literature more efficiently.
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