Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Enhancing Student Participation and Course Outcomes in Online Graduate Courses

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Enhancing Student Participation and Course Outcomes in Online Graduate Courses

Article excerpt


In the traditional face-to-face settings, education is typically instructor-led while in online settings, the instructor becomes a facilitator of learning and education becomes learner-focused who play the central role in knowledge acquisition through participative, active learning (Rena & Pratt, 2007). As outcome-focused instruction has become prominent, it is helpful to provide templates and samples of assignments and projects along with their assessment rubrics to students so they would know what they are expected to produce and how their product will be evaluated by the instructor. These tools clarify instructor expectations and improve students' participation and outcomes. Rubric-based discussions are richer and more fulfilling for students than discussions without such rubrics.

There is an old saying: "Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand." The Bloom's revised taxonomy extends it by adding: applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. A review of literature produces several theoretical models of teaching and learning that are relevant in settings that utilize text, sound, video, and 3D virtual worlds. These models provide a comprehensive theoretical background to enhance student engagement and course outcomes in online and traditional education.

Purpose and Scope

This study focuses on the online setting and methods for enhancing student learning and course outcomes. The authors discuss the use of numerous techniques, especially, templates and assessment rubrics, to facilitate students' learning and to improve course outcomes. The use of these techniques is discussed in specific MBA courses that were taught at a regional private university in the Northeastern United States. We provide several templates and rubrics that are utilized by our instructors and summarize students' reflective end-of-term assessment for such tools and techniques that improve course outcomes. A checklist for improving online instruction is also presented at the end. While this study focuses on online education, the concepts, tools, and techniques presented here should be equally relevant for the traditional classroom settings.


The literature on education and learning provides various theories, models, and perspectives. We present here significant taxonomies, frameworks, theories, and models that help us to understand the various stages of learning and the changing roles of instructors and students as online instruction became more prominent.

Crumpacker (2001) indicated that distance education students desired access to learning unconstrained by time and place and instructors desired face-to-face interaction with students. The desires of these two entities could be fulfilled by collaborative, problem-based asynchronous course designs that optimally balanced structure and dialog. Asynchronous Learning Networks fulfilled students' desire for flexibility, while collaborative, problem-based designs met instructors' need for interaction. He noted that compared with traditional course delivery, such a "compromise" design delivered comparable quality of education and outcomes. The quality of distance education could be significantly related to instructor motivation, skills and pedagogical approach that was learner-centered, collaborative, and problem-based in an asynchronous setting. He also noted that faculty training and development was critical for success of distance education programs.

Taxonomies of Objectives, Learning, and Assessing

Bloom (1956) introduced his taxonomy of learning objectives in the cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitude), and psychomotor (motor skills) domains. The six levels of learning objectives in his cognitive domain are listed here from the lowest to the highest order: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Anderson et al. …

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