A student’s success in the online classroom is directly related to the instructor’s teaching methods, in addition to how well they do their jobs. Without proper online classroom instruction, a student’s success in an online learning environment will likely be hindered. According to Student Participation Patterns in Online Discussion,“…not all students will succeed in an online course, especially one that is centered on learning through interaction and the collaboration of ideas. There is conflicting research on what types of students tend to succeed in online courses” (Student Participation Patterns in Online Discussion, 79-80).
Many believe that an instructor’s teachings have a direct correlation to how well students may do in an online course. According to Student Participation Patterns in Online Discussion, “…many researchers argue that instructor facilitation and modeling is the most important factor” (Student Participation Patterns in Online Discussion, 80). Online discussions play a big part in an online classroom. “Successful online course designers provide clear ground rules and expectations and allow student choice in discussion topics. Instructors who promote thoughtful student expression do not dominate the discussion. Instead, they have a restrained presence and “avoid becoming the center of all discussions” (Student Participation Patterns in Online Discussion, 80). Instructors, therefore, need to understand when to interject and when to fall back when interacting with their students in the online learning environment.
Teachers using unsound teaching methods or who are not meeting the needs and goals of the students could contribute to how much a student succeeds in the classroom and beyond. “Just as in the traditional classroom, instructional strategies are most effective when employed specifically to meet particular learning goals and objectives” (Online Learning in the United States Higher Education System, 10). That’s why it’s so important for teachers to find the best ways to helps students succeed in the classroom, whether virtual or in a face-to-face setting. “Asynchronous threaded discussion is a frequently used tool because it is seen as more democratic and allows students to fully formulate their ideas. In an asynchronous discussion, instructors ask different types of discussion board questions. This, too, can affect the level of student interaction” (Student Participation Patterns in Online Discussion, 1). With this method, students can easily be heard by both the instructor and the rest of the class.
In a normal classroom environment, it is clear that it’s more up to the student than up to the professor. In normal face-to-face classroom instruction, it is expected of students to actively participate in classroom discussion, to show up to class, to complete classroom activities, and to complete tests and exams given in class. But if a student doesn’t show up, that’s their fault. The same is true for an online environment. However, much more of the effort comes from the instructor than from the student. “Communication expectations should also define the instructor’s role, including how and when interaction will occur…A relatively simple, yet valuable way the instructor can remain actively involved and present to the students, is for the instructor to post weekly announcements” (Resolving Instructor Challenges in the Online Classroom, 2). Posting weekly announcements lets students know what is to be expected of them throughout the week without them having to refer back to the syllabus. Weekly announcements can also be used to let students know if there are any sudden changes in the syllabus.
It is the instructor’s responsibility to post quizzes, exams, and essays in a timely manner. It is up to the instructor to make sure that everything is visible to all students and to make sure that students know how to access the material in the online learning environment. Instructors must also make sure that the work engages students in active discussion about topics related to the course. They must spark the flow of ideas to provoke this discussion from their students. If the instructor cannot do this, it will directly affect how well the student does in that class, as well as any other online class they take in the future.
Also, it is an instructor’s responsibility to let the students know what is expected of them through the syllabus. “In a traditional classroom, many course policies and instructor expectations are communicated throughout the course, but in an online environment, policies need to be defined and readily available before the class commences. The instructor needs to clearly define online communication, course policies, and additional course expectations” (Resolving Instructor Challenges in the Online Classroom, 2). Without a clear definition of what’s to be expected, a student cannot be faulted for missing an assignment or any other violation of course policies and therefore, cannot succeed as well as they could.
The instructor should set deadlines and follow those deadlines, as should be outlined in the syllabus for the semester. Instructors should also motivate and encourage students throughout the course of the semester. But sometimes, it is not entirely the instructor’s fault. For instance, they could be new to the world of online learning. According to Resolving Instructor Challenges in the Online Classroom,“…most traditional instructors find themselves in a situation where they are novices about online education. Often, traditional teaching methods do not translate smoothly to the online environment” (Resolving Instructor Challenges in the Online Classroom, 1). Consequently, instructors might need to spend more time preparing themselves for online teaching and their course policies need to mirror the online learning environment. Organizing the website and course modules in an easily accessible way is key.
Therefore, it can be concluded that a student’s success in an online learning environment is directly affected by the teaching method of the instructor—more specifically, the effectiveness of the instructor’s teaching methods. Students can only do as well as their instructor allows in an online environment, provided the student does his or her part. Research shows that certain teaching methods have been effective in allowing students to excel in the online classroom environment. Therefore, teachers carry a lot more responsibility.
- Elison, Patt, Kimberly Henderson, and Linda Osgood. “Resolving Instructor Challenges in the Online Classroom.” International Journal on Learning 17.1 (2010): 339-46. Education Research Complete. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
- Harper, R. (2008). Online Learning in the United States Higher Education System. In C. Bonk et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2008 (pp. 2691-2708). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved October 15, 2013 from http://www.editlib.org/p/30049.
- Kim, H.K. & Bateman, B. (2010). Student Participation Patterns in Online Discussion: Incorporating Constructivist Discussion into Online Courses. International Journal on E-Learning, 9(1), 79-98. Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved October 15, 2013 from http://www.editlib.org/p/28165.