Online scaffolding in a fully online educational leadership course
da Rosa Ferrarelli, L. (2015). Online scaffolding in a fully online educational leadership course (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9661
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9661
Online scaffolding encompasses a range of effective teaching strategies that help students to achieve their learning goals while at the same time exercising their autonomy. Although online scaffolding is crucial for student learning, not much is known about scaffolding in an online post-graduate course. In order to address this research gap, this study explored the intricacies of online scaffolding in a fully online educational leadership course. Through a mixed-method research design, a case study was developed weaving the perspectives and actions of lecturers and students in a fully online post-graduate educational leadership course. Two interviews with lecturers, two student online surveys and two online forum discussion logs, each one from the start and the end of the course, were analysed using content and statistical analyses. The theory of transactional distance provided a theoretical framework and the literature on scaffolding in distance education guided the analysis process. A third online space, the Question & Answer section, was archived and analysed in order to enrich insights that were emerging from the other data sources. Research outcomes revealed that lecturers’ understanding of online scaffolding focused on the design and use of resources, modelling, and the use of questioning in forum discussions in order to facilitate learner engagement with content. At the beginning of the course, lecturers provided a high level of procedural and social scaffolding followed by an on-going learner support (strategic scaffolding), which peaked before assignment deadlines. Students thought of online scaffolding as a coaching process in which lecturers monitor learners’ online engagement to provide encouragement, identify misconceptions, and provide direction and feedback when necessary. Furthermore, procedural and strategic scaffolding were reported by students as essential forms of learner support. In particular, students felt that formative and timely feedback was paramount to their online scaffolding and expected lecturers to offer procedural, social, and strategic scaffolding. Sharing of professional experiences and visual resources, a more informal tone of communication, and the use of students’ and lecturers’ names in online postings were evident throughout the course. In addition, peer scaffolding in online discussions was encouraged by the lecturer and practised by students through a range of strategies, including agreement with others’ ideas, acknowledgment of peers’ postings, and answering questions raised by peers. Some suggestions for enhancing online scaffolding in this course, and online teaching in general, include creating a course road map, describing the pace of the course, creating online participation and peer facilitation guidelines, and others.
University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses