Emerging themes in a distance-delivered Calculus I course: Perceptions of collaboration, community and support

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the 121st Annual ASEE Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, IN

Publication Date



Emerging Themes in a Distance Delivered Calculus I Course: Student Perceptions of Community, Engagement and Support Abstract Our national interest in educating greater numbers of engineers puts emphasis on creating undergraduate engineering degree opportunities accessible by traditionally underrepresented student groups, including geographically dispersed and rural residents, working professionals, and women. Currently, new offerings able to accommodate non-traditional student groups are evolving via distance education and online learning. As more engineering programs adopt distance education as a means to engage a larger, more diverse student pool, significant needs for pedagogy capable of supporting these contemporary learning environments arise. For distance engineering students, educational intervention within the required calculus sequence may be most critical: Local data indicates that student success rates in distance delivered calculus can be as low as 48%. This paper describes data gathered during the first year of an NSF sponsored TUES Type I project entitled “Online Learning Forums for Improved Engineering Student Outcomes in Calculus.” In this three-year quasi-experimental study, we are evaluating the potential of web-based learning communities, as implemented through a freely available, wiki-based online platform, to improve student outcomes in distance delivered calculus. Using quantitative and qualitative data, we will assess similarities and differences in the academic achievement, interest and attitudes toward learning between control and treatment sections of Calculus I and II, delivered using synchronous video broadcast to students located at several regional sites throughout the state. A major outcome of this project will be the development and dissemination of a student usage model aimed at facilitating a broader use of online learning forums throughout Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Initial data gathered during the control section of Calculus I includes exam scores, student participant observation, instructor reflection, an end of course student survey, and semi-structured one-on-one interviews conducted with students withdrawing from or failing the course. Analysis includes open coding of interview data and factor analysis of survey data to describe emergent themes in the data. Participant observation and instructor reflection data are used to triangulate the analysis. Preliminary findings will be used to inform the implementation of the online forum in the Calculus I and II treatment sections during the next phase of the project.

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