Effective Teaching Strategies
For Web-Based Learning
Barbra R. Kerns
Toward a Distinct Goal: Effective Teaching
In 1987, Art Chickering and Zelda Gamson, with
the support of the American Association for Higher Education,
published “Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate
Education”, as a standard against which to measure
desirable teaching methods for increasing student learning
outcomes. It stated “good practice: 1) encourages contacts
between students and faculty; 2) develops reciprocity and
cooperation among students; 3) encourages active learning;
4) gives prompt feedback; 5) emphasizes time on task; 6)
communicates high expectations: and 7) respects diverse talents
and ways of learning” (1987).
Nine years after the Seven Principles were published, with
the advances in technology, Chickering along with Stephen
Ehrmann, published “Implementing the Seven Principles:
Technology as a Lever” to compliment the original work,
adding “cost-effective and appropriate ways to use
computers, video, and telecommunications technologies to
advance the Seven Principles” (1996). Specifically,
the authors recommend that professors should use asynchronous
communication such as email or discussion boards to encourage
contact between students and faculty. Secondly, they state
that co-operation among students can be enhanced through
online group communication tools. Active learning is aided
by stimulating communication, real-time interaction, as well
as advanced software that help simulate real-world situations.
Email aids prompt feedback. Time-on-task increases with broader
access to materials. Peer evaluation in the form of online
discussion and sharing of students’ materials over
the web increases expectations. And the final principle,
diverse talents can be shared through self reflection and
self evaluation of the asynchronous communication tools,
while ways of learning is aided by the abilities to deliver
information in a variety of teaching methods and formats
via computer (1996).
Teaching and Assessing Student Learning
Effective teaching can only be considered successful
if the students are actually learning. In 1993, Thomas Angelo
and Patricia Cross published a handbook of 50 classroom assessments
as a way “to provide college teachers…with a
compendium of good ideas developed by their colleagues for
assessing and improving student learning” (1993, 105).
Theses assessments were not created within the context of
online learning, but as is mentioned later in this research,
many have been adapted for use in a web-based learning environment.
Table 1 is a list of the 50 techniques as found on page 109
of the handbook.
Audio- and videotaped protocols
Background knowledge probe
Classroom assessment quality circles
Classroom opinion polls
Content, form and function outlines
Course-related self-confidence surveys
Defining features matrix
Diagnostic learning logs
Documented problem solutions
Electronic mail feedback
Everyday ethical dilemmas
Focused autobiographical sketches
Goal ranking and matching
Group instructional feedback technique
Human tableau or class modeling
Paper or project prospectus
Pro and con grid
Problem recognition tasks
Productive study-time logs
Profiles of admirable individuals
Reading rating sheets
RSQC2 (Recall, Summarize, Question, Comment, and
Self-assessment of ways of learning
Student-generated test questions
Teacher-designed feedback forms
What’s the principle?
These assessment tools
help assess students in five major areas: 1) prior knowledge,
recall and understanding; 2) skills in analysis and critical
thinking; 3) skills in synthesis and creative thinking;
4) skills in problem solving; and 5) skills in application
performance (1993). The handbook further illustrates the
pros and cons of each technique as well as how they can
be adapted for different disciplines.
A number of people have taken these 50 assessment tools and
adapted them for use over the Internet. David G. Brown
has several examples of how he takes advantage of the convenience
and time saving measures of the computer to make a positive
impact on the amount and quality of learning in his courses.
For the first suggestion, students email the instructor
point”, or most confusing part of the readings or
lesson, and the instructor will summarize and respond to
class with clarification. The instructor also uses that
information to revise those aspects of the lesson for the
next time the
class is taught (2001).
Another technique of Brown’s is to use electronic chat
for students to share a one-sentence summary of the most
important concept of the lesson (2001). This provides him
a view of the students’ knowledge base, from which
he can direct the next learning element.
Brown gets students collaborating by dividing the class
in half. Half of the students are asked to summarize the
of the class lesson into one paragraph, apply it to a specific
challenge, and share it with another member in the class.
Then those two students are paired up with a volunteer
off-campus alum with whom they must work over the Internet
on a single paragraph (2001).
A fourth example Brown offers is to have two students submit
a ranked, annotated list of five internet sites designed
to most aid their fellow students in understanding the
next week’s lesson. He states that the authors of the
list feel empowered from their ability to contribute to the
of their peers, and those students that review the students’ websites
are more likely to challenge his lecture (2000).
Email can be a powerful, yet simple and convenient tool
for inspiring active learning among students. Brown encourages
students to email the rest of the class any references
newspaper articles on current topics relating to the course.
He also has students email him a paragraph at the end of
class that summarizes the key concept of the lecture. Likewise,
at the beginning of the next class, he has students email
him a brief paragraph on what they learned the previous
class. (He teaches face-to-face in a classroom in which
is seated at a networked computer.) He uses email as a
coaching tool, to give tips for success prior to a big
and to provide personal encouragement or direction on a
one-to-one level (2001).
Pitt and Clark (2001) described several strategies they found
to be powerful tools in teaching. For discussion-led teaching
online, they mention mailing lists (or listservs) and electronic
discussion boards. Group discussion can also be used to
get students collaborating and communicating on higher intellectual
levels (Pitt & Clark, 2001).
The electronic discussion board is a commonly used tool
for extending classroom interaction. Karayan and Crowe
a study to discover if student behaviors changed as a result
of participating in an electronic discussion group. Their
belief was that “the convenience of interaction,
the provision for different kinds of learning, and the
to ‘think through writing’ would be evidenced
in changes in student behaviors” (1997, p. 70). Their
findings indicated that roughly half of the students were
more likely to exhibit desired behaviors, such as asking
more questions, as a result of participating in the electronic
discussion group. The authors asked students if their behavior
changed as a result of instructors using electronic discussion
groups. They asked the students to compare their own behavior
after participating in the electronic discussion groups.
They also asked the instructors to state their reasons
for using the electronic discussion group and what their
were. The authors stated four specific examples of how
the electronic discussion board improved teaching and learning:
1) the electronic discussion board served to equalize responses
of those students who are spontaneous and those who are
participants; 2) the electronic discussion board fostered
a greater sense of community: 3) the electronic discussion
board allowed students time to organize their thoughts;
and 4) the electronic discussion board gave the students
practice writing their thoughts in a coherent manner.
Role playing can also be conducted in small groups (Pitt & Clark,
2001) online in a live chat environment. Each person in
the group can act out a role in a simulated real-life situation.
This exercise helps the students develop a better understanding
of other people’s positions and how to handle those
Other forms of group collaborations could include simulations,
case studies, problem solving exercises, small group discussion
and brainstorming (Pitt & Clark, 2001).
Paulsen described several online teaching techniques in
his 1995 research based on different teaching scenarios,
on whether learning was independent of a teacher, one-on-one
with a teacher, or involving several students to one or
several teachers. One person could successfully seek out
new material by studying topic-related online databases,
online journals, online applications, software libraries,
online interest groups and by conducting interviews (1995).
Individualized teaching and learning in a one-on-one environment
can take advantage of web-based techniques like learning
contracts, apprenticeships, internships, and correspondence
studies. A learning contract, as described by O’Donnell
and Caffarella is a specific agreement written by the learner
that outlines what will be learned, how it will be accomplished,
the time frame, and the evaluation criteria (Paulsen, 1995).
Paulsen mentioned the “skit” as a technique
that may be used with one teacher and several students
are hesitant to participate. The teacher interacts in a
discussion board or computer conference using more than
one user ID.
One of the ID’s is used to pose questions as the
role of an anonymous student (1995).
A teaching and learning technique in getting students thinking
creatively would be an adaptation of brainstorming called “brainwriting” (Paulsen,
1995). In the online discussion board environment, this
would mean each person would post a unique comment or idea
to the problem or situation at hand.
Student collaboration and problem solving skills are the
outcomes of the Delphi technique in which experts/participants
are surveyed for their opinions. They then work toward
consensus of the group. The online environment offers the
remotely collect and share opinions from which to then
work toward a mutual synthesis of ideas (Paulsen, 1995).
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