NWC graduate school dean publishes on online pedagogy

Dr. Rebecca HoeyDr. Rebecca Hoey, dean of the Northwestern College graduate school, recently published an article on online teaching pedagogy in the Online Learning Consortium’s leading journal, OLJ.

Titled “A Critical Analysis of Characteristics That Influence the Effect of Instructor Discussion Interaction on Student Outcomes,” the article shares the results of Hoey’s research into the optimal frequency and content for instructor interaction in online class discussions.

“Teacher presence facilitates students’ social and cognitive presence in online courses,” she writes in the article’s abstract. “Instructor interaction in discussion forums, a widely adopted instructional strategy, establishes teacher presence, but research on optimal frequency and content is underdeveloped.”

During the 2015–16 school year, Hoey evaluated more than 1,600 instructor posts by Northwestern graduate school faculty members to determine how they affected students’ perceptions of course and instructor quality, students’ perceptions of their own learning, and students’ actual achievement.

Hoey found that the frequency of instructor posts in online class discussions had little to no impact on student outcomes. Regarding the content of the instuctors’ posts, though, she found that posts with instructional content improved students’ perceptions of their own learning, and conversational posts improved students’ perceptions of course and instructor quality as well as students’ actual academic achievement.

Hoey concludes that requirements for online instructors to engage in online class discussions with prescribed regularity may not be necessary. Online instructors should, however, be encouraged to engage meaningfully in online class discussions, both with curricular content and with personal conversation that helps online students connect relationally with their professor.

Hoey oversees Northwestern’s graduate school and adult learning programs, which include Master of Education tracks in early childhood, master teacher, special education and teacher leadership; degree-completion programs that lead to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree or a bachelor’s degree in early childhood; and graduate-level endorsements and certificate programs for teachers.

For more information about Northwestern’s graduate school and adult learning programs—which are highly ranked for both academic excellence and affordability—visit online.nwciowa.edu.