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Wednesday, June 22 • 11:15 - 12:15
CON01.08b - Student Experiences & Outcomes in an Online Small-Group Interdisciplinary Active Learning First-Year Seminar

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Online courses are becoming increasingly popular and at the same time first-year seminars have been one way in which universities address the challenges of large impersonal classes, lack of student engagement, and increased skills development (Summerlee & Murray, 2008). This pedagogy has been shown to be a highly effective way to improve student outcomes when delivered in-person (Summerlee & Murray, 2010). Could the learning experience and benefits of an in-person first-year seminar be achieved through an online distance education (DE) format? How would students experience and benefit from an online DE first-year seminar? Such an interdisciplinary online DE first-year seminar was successfully developed and offered three times at the University of Guelph. The course used the Desire2Learn platform with a number of linked external features and additional custom-built embedded internal tools to enable the use of small group, closed loop, enquiry-based learning pedagogy (Murray & Summerlee, 2007). Although enquiry-based learning pedagogy traditionally relies on synchronous delivery in-person, the online DE format required an asynchronous adaptation. Given this pedagogy, enrolment was limited to 18 students each course offering (who were broken into 3 groups of 6 students each). This presentation will include reflections from the course’s faculty instructor and instructional designer who co-designed the course, results from pre- and post-course surveys completed by students, and qualitative interviews conducted with students.
By the end of this session, attendees who are actively engaged can expect to achieve the following intended learning outcomes: 1) Recognize the key components of small group, closed loop, enquiry-based learning pedagogy, 2) Discuss the effectiveness of using this pedagogy in an online learning environment, and 3) Identify the facilitators and barriers to learning articulated by students in this course.


Nathan Lachowsky

Nathan Lachowsky is an epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He is also an Ontario HIV Treatment Network Junior Investigator at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

Jacqueline Murray

Jacqueline Murray is Professor of History, a 3M National Teaching Fellow and Director of the First-Year Seminar Program at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She has pioneered and co-authored several publications regarding the use of enquiry-based learning pedagogy... Read More →

Additional Authors

Natalie Giebrecht

University of Guelph

Wednesday June 22, 2016 11:15 - 12:15 EDT
UCC 61