Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Developing a Taxonomy of Interaction Strategies for Two-Way Interactive Distance Education Television

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Developing a Taxonomy of Interaction Strategies for Two-Way Interactive Distance Education Television

Article excerpt

The fundamental vehicle of the learning process, at its most basic, is communication. A critical component of communication is interaction between the learner and the source of information. Teachers often play an influential role in how information is delivered through the strategies they choose. Research has provided practitioners with empirical justification for redesigning and reconceptualizing pedagogy, yet, current teaching strategies continue to emphasize and institutionalize the roles and responsibilities traditionally imposed on students. These roles afford students very limited "communicative and semantic options" (Edwards and Westgate, 1987, p. 38). Instructors continue to dominate classroom interaction and impose direct, formal classroom atmospheres (Shuy, 1988). Further, despite the general consensus for provision of two-way communication and interaction, "the reality is that not enough is done to actually facilitate it." (Garrison, 1989, p. 18).

Perhaps most importantly, findings concerning interaction in traditional, self-contained classrooms cannot be applied unequivocally in technology-mediated, distance learning environments (Nahl, 1993). The introduction of technology necessarily imposes delivery constraints on instructors (DeFleur and Ball-Rockeach, 1982) besides affecting students' perceptions of the learning experience. Distance educators will be increasingly required to investigate and understand the implications of technology on communication and interaction or risk being "unprepared to put that technology to use in a productive way." (Larsen, 1985, in Garrison, 1989, p. 19). However, research on distance learning in the two-way, audio/video, interactive environment has heretofore not directly defined what specific teacher behaviors foster increased levels of interaction as perceived by students nor the relationship between actual teacher behaviors and student satisfaction. Therefore, the purpose this study was to examine various interaction strategies for the distance education context and develop a taxonomy that could be applied to research and practice.

Fulford and Zhang (1993, 1994, 1996), Zhang and Fulford (1994), and Sholdt, Zhang, and Fulford (1995) correlated data on student overall satisfaction and perceptions of the level of interaction. Their findings suggest that (a) perceived levels of interaction are not significantly associated with actual levels of interaction, (b) student satisfaction with interaction is not significantly related to overall interaction time, and (c) a student's perception of overall interactivity is somewhat dependent on that student's perception of participation of peers in classroom activities. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that influencing the type and quality of interaction may affect student satisfaction and perceptions of overall classroom interactivity more than simply increasing the time spent in interactive activities. This current study was designed to continue the line of inquiry by developing a taxonomy through which instructors' verbal strategies to elicit interaction can be identified and described.

TAXONOMIES FOR DISCOURSE ANALYSIS

Interaction and communication are complex. Any given research study will be capable of addressing only a fraction of the total facets possible. While many studies focus on the structure of learning activities or the media through which content is presented, discourse analysis focuses on the nature and content of underlying interactions and the implications of discourse patterns on teaching and learning. Since a taxonomy designed to study participant utterances will determine to a significant extent what will be learned from the study (Furlong and Edwards, 1993; Hammersley, 1993), the taxonomy should account for only those behaviors it was intended to describe. This study focuses specifically on teacher verbal behaviors that foster interaction in a two-way interactive television classroom. …

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