Student-Student Interaction In An Online Continuing Professional Development Course: Testing Anderson's Equivalency Theorem
Markewitz, Linda A.
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Continuing education programs for laboratory professionals benefit from the creation of a community of inquiry which encourages students to think critically and learn deeply. Student-student interactions are an essential factor in that structure. This research asked the question, “Is interaction between students a necessary component of online learning for medical laboratory professionals?” The study examined the impact of student-student interactions in an online professional development course in medical laboratory science. Anderson’s equivalency theorem serves as a theoretical frame and identifies categories of the independent variable, student-student interaction. Three dependant variables were explored: (1) student test scores; (2) quantities of student-content and student-instructor interactions; and (3) change in student approaches to learning. Results show statistical significance for student-content and student-instructor interactions. Findings approached the level of significance for surface approach scores. Simple measures of effect showed the relationship of a mildly positive change in deep approach scores combined with a moderately negative change in surface approach scores for the treatment group. Although the study was hampered by a short experimental time-frame and a small sample size, evidence supports the inclusion of student-student interactions via CMC in online instruction for medical laboratory continuing education programs.