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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What Advice Would You Give?

This is another message based upon a comment that Abagail posted to my What Am I Working On? entry. In our exchange I asked her what she was interested in and this is what she wrote.


But I am starting a preliminary study looking at factors related to why students do or do not complete their courses at a state-led virtual high school. I'm looking at this question from both the student perspective and the teacher perspective. I'm curious to see how they compare and contrast.

More generally, I'm interested in why students do/don't complete courses, factors related to helping students be successful online, and how rates of completion differ among various student populations and why. The school that I am looking at does a lot of remediation, so it isn't just getting the cream of the crop student who is highly motivated and a stellar, self-directed learner like most. As with many virtual schools, attrition rates are a concern.

Any suggestions for a novice researcher?

Note that she asked for suggestions, which is why I turned this into an entry on to itself. What suggestions do you have for Abagail?

From my standpoint, I would recommend that you take a look at what some others have done that is closely related to this. The first that comes to mind is an article by Weiner that was published in the International Journal for e-Learning, which was based upon her dissertation study (that she completed at an online university so I haven't been able to obtain it - you can purchase it for $30.00 or something). Another one that immediately comes to mind is a new book that is out entitled Virtual Charter Schools and Home Schooling by Carol, L. Klein. A third resource to aim to get is a dissertation completed by Craig Butz (which you should be able to find on ProQuest). Finally, but most importantly, you need to really get your hands on everything that Roblyer and company have done around the ESPRI - as this is about as close to your area as you're going to find.


In terms of potential methodology for your particular area of interest, you could go one of two ways. Given that this is an area that you probably don't have a lot of background in, an exploratory approach may be the best route to take. If you were to take an exploratory approach, you'd want to do some sort of qualitative study with a small number of participants - but you'd want your participants to be purposively selected (i.e., you could pick someone who struggled but got through, struggled and dropped out, someone who simply dropped out without really trying, and someone who was successful without much trouble). This kind of sample you could really explore some of the factors that did and did not make these students successful in the virtual school environment. As a second step, once you get some sense of these factors, then you could develop a survey using your findings and the existing literature, that you would then need to conduct a reliability study on (which could easily serve as a dissertation study). Your reliability study would help you weed out which questions and factors were not useful in your survey and if there were potential ones that you missed.


That's all I can think of off the top of my head. What suggestions would others have?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Abigail said...

MKB,
Thanks for the ideas and resources--very helpful!

1:13 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

No problem... It is nice to actually get some comments written on my entries these days, so feel free to continue writing them.

As I was mentioning to someone only a day or two ago, I have a statistics tracking so I know what kind of readership I have, where they come from, how long they stay, repeat visitors, that type of thing - but rarely do I actually get to engage in conversations with people because so few actually take the time to comment.

So don't stop. And anyone else out there, feel free to join in.

MKB

6:09 PM  

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