A Comparison of a Team Versus an Individual Approach to Learning in an Online Teacher Preparation Program
Carling, Linda Z.
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This quasi-experimental study investigated the effect of a high-performance teaming approach on motivation and engagement as compared to an individual approach in an online alternative teacher preparation program. The study sample included 104 teachers from all grade levels and subject areas enrolled in the program. Five intact groups of participants in two reading courses were assigned to a control or treatment group. The participants in the control condition completed the course individually, while participants in the treatment condition worked in structured learning teams. Asynchronous course discussions were led by the instructor in the individual approach, and led by team members in the team approach. The courses, designed for learner motivation, were controlled in both conditions. The Johns Hopkins University Electronic Learning Community (ELC) provided a web-based platform for each course, enabling students in both conditions to access course materials and engage in asynchronous discussions with class members and instructors. To evaluate the differences between the control and treatment groups, data on four dependent variables were collected: (a) motivation toward course interest, with four subcomponents of student motivation; (b) motivation toward instructional materials, with four subcomponents of student motivation; (c) frequency of participants’ interactions; and (d) perceived quality of the interactions. Study findings indicated that there was significantly more motivation toward the course overall, and more confidence and satisfaction toward the course between participants working in teams than working individually. Also, there was significantly more satisfaction toward the instructional materials for participants in the team approach. Study findings also indicated that students working in teams had higher engagement than students working individually based on a higher rate of posting and an increase in the reported quality of interaction over time in the team approach. Findings contribute to meeting a demonstrated need for an online model for teacher preparation and a configuration for structuring teams in an online environment.
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