Title page for ETD etd-12182010-132133

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Byers, Albert S.
Author's Email Address abyers@vt.edu
URN etd-12182010-132133
Title Examining Learner-Content Interaction Importance and Efficacy in Online, Self-Directed Electronic Professional Development in Science for Elementary Educators in Grades Three – Six
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Burton, John K. Committee Chair
Brand, Brenda R. Committee Member
Lockee, Barbara B. Committee Member
Potter, Kenneth R. Committee Member
  • learning preferences
  • self-directed professional development
  • e-Learning
  • online professional development
  • learning styles
  • online interaction strategies
Date of Defense 2010-11-29
Availability unrestricted
Stagnant student achievement in science education in the United States has placed an increased emphasis on teacher professional development. Since many elementary educators could benefit from improved science content knowledge—and given the challenge of providing this at a level scalable and sustainable through face-to-face delivery alone—this study sought to understand what types of online self-directed content-interaction strategies are of greatest learner satisfaction and provide the highest learning impact for teachers in grades three – six. Employing Anderson’s Equivalency of Interaction Theorem, and looking at age, years teaching experience, and learning preferences via Kolb and Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory 3.1 (2005), this descriptive study non-randomly sampled 85 educators who passed a series of self-paced interactive web modules to rate their preferences for five different types of content-interactive strategies: (a) simulations, (b) interactive reference, (c) hands-on, (d) personal feedback, and (e) pedagogical implications. Using an online survey and a pre- and postassessment instrument it was found that (a) as age and years teaching experience increase, teachers’ preferences for personal feedback, interactive reference, and simulations increased, (b) teachers’ content knowledge increased significantly after completing the web modules, (c) teachers’ learning style moderately aligned with their preferences for content-interaction strategies, and (d) teachers least preferred the pedagogical implications component. Instructional designers and education administrators selecting professional development for teachers may find this informative. Data from this research support Anderson’s theory that if the content interaction is rich, human interaction may be provided in diminished capacities.
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