Facilitating and dealing with learner differences in the online classroom
Donovan A. McFarlane
This paper explores the challenges faced by teachers and educators in the online classroom, especially in light of existing learner differences among students stemming from intelligence, socioeconomic status (SES), culture, gender, among other factors. The author examines the characteristics of the online classroom and looks at learner differences as significant factors impacting teacher responsibilities in the online setting. Several challenges common to facilitated online learning (FOL) and independent online learning (IOL) in the online classroom are examined and brought into perspective as the author applies social science theories such as self-efficacy, multiple intelligences theory, social distance theory and comparative homogeneity, pedagogy and classroom management theories in analyzing and addressing these challenges. The author makes several recommendations for online teachers and educators to address the problems and challenges that are present in the online classroom and then explores the implications for teaching and learning. Finally, the author espouses a need for research into the major issue under discussion.
Keywords: Facilitated online learning (fol), independent online learning (iol), online classroom, presence, school climate, school culture, pedagogy, computer mediated learning (cml), socioeconomic status (ses), efficacy
Modelling the influences of beliefs on preservice teachers' attitudes towards computer use
The purpose of this study is to examine the pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward computers use. The impact of five variables (perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, subjective norm, facilitating conditions, and technological complexity) on attitude towards computer was assessed. Data were collected from 230 preservice teachers through self-report and structural equation modelling was used as the technique for analysis. Results showed that 64% of the variance in attitude towards computer use was explained by the five exogenous variables. In addition, perceived usefulness, subjective norm, and technological complexity were found to be significant influences on attitude toward computer use while perceived ease of use and facilitating conditions did not.
Keywords: Pre-service teachers, beliefs, attitudes towards computer use, structural equation modeling
Special needs assistants: The special charcteristics and strenght of the school system of Finland
Kati-Tuulia Maensivu, Satu Uusiautti, Kaarina Maatta
The contribution of special needs assistants (SNA) is becoming increasingly important in inclusive and special classrooms. However, the profession itself has remained unexplored. The purpose of this article is to describe special needs assistants’ perceptions on their education, professional competence, the content and significance of their work within the school system of Finland, and the further development of their role and content of their work. 171 special needs assistants from the province of Lapland participated in the research. This research was a mixed methods research where the data was collected in 2010 through a semi-structured questionnaire that consisted both quantitative and qualitative elements and was, therefore, analyzed both by using qualitative and quantitative analyzing methods. The results highlighted the diversity, challenges and development needs of special needs assistants’ work. Special needs assistants are strength and can work as a support for teachers, students, and parents.
Keywords: Special needs assistants in educational institutions, the school system of Finland, Finnish lapland, mixed methods research
An event-related potentials study of mental rotation in identifying chemical structural formulas
Chin-Fei Huang, Chia-Ju Liu
The purpose of this study was to investigate how mental rotation strategies affect the identification of chemical structural formulas. This study conducted event-related potentials (ERPs) experiments. In addition to the data collected in the ERPs, a Chemical Structure Conceptual Questionnaire and interviews were also administered for data collection. Eighteen university students majoring in chemistry were recruited. In the ERP experiments, the participants were required to identify 2D figures, 2D chemical structural formulas, 3D objects and 3D chemical structural formulas. The contours of 2D figures are similar to those of 2D chemical structural formulas, but they contain no content knowledge. Likewise, the contours of 3D objects are similar to 3D chemical structural formulas without content knowledge. The results showed that all students used similar strategies of mental rotation in identifying 2D figures, 3D objects and 3D chemical structural formulas. However, the high-achieving students used different strategies in identifying 2D figures and chemical structural formulas, while the low-achieving students tended to use similar strategies of mental rotation in identifying both 2D figures and chemical structural formulas. The results indicate that some of the difficulties in identifying 2D chemical structural formulas that students encounter are due to their inappropriate strategies of mental rotation.
Keywords: Chemical structural formulas, event-related potentials, mental rotation, rotation-related negativity
Concept maps: An instructional tool to facilitate meaningful learning
Muhammad Safdar, Azhar Hussain, Iqbal Shah, Qudsia Rifat
This paper describes the procedure of developing an instructional tool, ‘concept mapping’ and its effectiveness in making the material meaningful to the students. In Pakistan, the traditional way of teaching science subjects at all levels at school relies heavily on memorization. The up-to-date data obtained from qualitative and quantitative research strongly supports the value of concept mapping as an instructional tool both for cognitive and affective gains. This study seeks to contribute to this development by considering how the insights of Ausubel can be converted into an effective and efficient instructional method. It was found that concept maps help improving achievement of the students and make learning more meaningful so that retrieval is possible.
Keywords: Concept maps, meaningful learning, teaching science