Week 4 is turned out to be my best week yet. I feel like the 1-on-1 meetings and badges are working. I met with 5 out of 8 of my students. The meetings were mostly to touch base. We talked about how to access their grades, how to post to the discussion board, and the meanings for the different badges. I believe the badges were a really good suggestion and I am glad that I followed through with it.

I have decided on a concept of my final paper and I would like everyone’s thoughts. I have come to decision that there are three major components to an online course – the student, the instructor, and the course. I guess that is pretty much a given. However, my action research project is to determine how important each component is to student success. My first instinct is to say that the student’s success is mostly based upon the efforts of the student. But as I work through the course, I understand that all three are very important – and if any part is lacking then the student has a greater chance at failure. I guess what I really want to determine is if there is something more I could be doing so that all of my students will succeed.

I have been doing some research to help support my theories on the subject. Here is a summary of some of the articles I have found.

Five Factors that Affect Online Student Motivation by Rob Kelly

Empowerment, usefulness, success, interest, and caring are mentioned in this article. The two that stick out the most are interest and caring. The student must have some interest in the subject area. Even though my students understand the importance of the Algebra course they are taking, some have expressed their disinterest in the subject. I believe those feelings are always going to play a part in how much effort they put into the course. However, I also believe that if the students feel that the instructor cares about their success, then they will put in some extra effort into succeeding. I do feel that many students want their instructors to be proud of them and their efforts. I really am trying to show that through my emails and feedback.

10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education

I believe that the link I found is just a summary of an actual report, but it has some good information. It basically focuses on what the instructor can do to increase student success in online learning. I especially like numbers 1, 4 & 7. The first principle I find is the most important – Show Up and Teach! Even though my course is almost completely asynchronous, it does not teach itself. The students need to know that there is an instructor is available. Number 4 says Plan for the Unplanned. I have already come across some complications with my Internet and am a big fan of this principle. And finally, #7 suggests that the instructor Help Maintain Forward Progress. Students rely on the immediate feedback to ensure that they are on the right track. If it takes you too long to get back to them, then they are going to get farther and farther behind. They also may need the extra time to fix important mistakes.

I also created a short survey that I sent out to my 8 students. The survey was more statements of their feelings on learning math. Thus far, I have gotten 3 responses. Although many of my students understand the importance of math, they still are not interested in learning it. This pains me ☹

Here are the survey statements. Each statement had three choice responses – always true, sometimes true or never true.

I like learning math!

Math is boring.

Math is important throughout life.

I like to come up with new ways to solve math problems.

Learning new things in math is fun for me.