Title

Integrating WWW technology into classroom teaching: College students' perceptions of course Web sites as an instructional resource

Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation

Advisor(s)

Charles M. Spuches

Keywords

Teaching, College students, Web sites, Instructional resource, World Wide Web, Technology integration

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Instructional Media Design

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine college students' perceptions of course Web sites as an instructional resource for classroom-based courses as one case study of a private Research II university faculty initiative to integrate WWW technology into campus-based courses. The focus of the study was on the identification of functions on the course Web sites that students perceived as supporting and fostering their learning experiences.

One hundred and forty-two students responded to a 60-item questionnaire on the time spent using their respective course Web sites, their perceptions of Web site instructional quality and usefulness. Students also responded to open-ended questions on their perceived barriers to and facilitators of using the course Web sites and their overall perceived impact of the WWW on their learning experiences. Nine out 174 course Web sites offered in the fall 1998 were selected based on a screening test using a 30-item instrument. In addition to the Student Web site Perception Survey (SWPS) and the Web site Instructional Design Checklist (WIDEC), a third instrument was developed and administered to participating faculty for triangulation purposes when interpreting the data.

Study findings indicated an overall positive perception of the quality and usefulness of the course Web sites. In terms of time spent on given functions, on average per typical semester week, 64 minutes was spent on conducting searches on the WWW, 40 minutes on downloading and printing material, and 34 minutes on communicating with faculty and teaching assistants. The highest ratings of instructional quality were on the visual appeal and readability of Web sites and the importance of the material on the Web site. The lowest ratings of instructional quality were on the clarity and purposeful introductions to each segment on the Web site, the clarity of the connection of each new section on the Web site with course objectives, and the general taste in color of pages. The highest ratings for perceived usefulness were on the use of visuals to recall or present new information and the opportunity to ask questions online. The lowest ratings were the use of links to review/recall prerequisite material and instruction on how to navigate the Web site.

Students reported that the greatest barriers to use were access to computers and to Web site addresses (URLs), perceived inadequacy of their Internet skills, motivation to use the course Web site, and time constraints. The greatest facilitators of use were guidance, quality of content, availability of material, access to material, faculty, peers, teaching assistants, and experts, and ease of communication. Overall impact of course Web site was its time saving qualities, 24-hour accessibility to resources, facilitating preparation for class, and increased understanding of class expectations and objectives. Finally, there appears to be a negative relationship between residential distance from campus and perceived usefulness of course Web sites and a possible relationship between courses and students' perceived instructional quality specifically on functions related to clarity of purpose and objectives. In addition, there appears to be a general lack of motivation to use the course Web sites, possibly due to their lack of mandatory use and what students reported as a lack of incentive to use them for specific course requirements. Recommendations and suggestions for further research are also provided.

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