Charlene E. Ghaedi
Reference: Lyman, S. A., D. Williams, and L. Begnaud. "Using the Internet to Enhance the Study of Human Sexuality," ComputEd, 6:(5 pps.), 2000.
Principle: The Internet can effectively be used to enhance the study of human sexuality in higher education.
Type of Design: A course called Health and Sexuality was designed and presented as a web-based course that would be taught in the Spring 2000 semester in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The course was an elective and was open to senior students. The students were given a choice of either taking the web-based course or taking the course by attending a formal class. There was a total of 40 students who signed up for the course, but 11 of the students opted for attending the formal class. The course utilized Blackboard, which is anon-line course delivery system. Discussion boards, E-mail, and chat room were utilized as means of communication. All course materials were obtained from the web. The students met with the professor for an orientation the first two weeks of class to teach them how to use Blackboard and to orient them to the computer. The students were examined by coming to a general class meeting and taking the multiple-choice exam together. Blackboard could issue an exam via the web, but taking the exam in a class was determined to be the design of this experimental course. Course requirements were the same for students who took the web-based course as they were for the students who came in for a formal class.
Factors Jeopardizing Internal Validity: One factor that would jeopardize internal validity would be the experimental mortality. Dropout of students from the course would narrow the sample and would question the validity of sample size. The interaction effects of selection biases and the experimental variable would be another factor that could jeopardize internal validity. The only testing would be a final exam. This does not give a beginning exam to compare success of the student against. Also, does a good score on the subject exam guarantee that the student has effectively learned via the Internet? The class would meet a week before the exam. Would this review meeting be the real indicator of how well the students do on their exams and would this not take away from the validity of the course by testing in a formal class versus over the Internet? A comparison would need to be done of the formal class compared to the experimental web-based course in order to statistically validate the success of the web-based course. Personal biases of the students toward computers could greatly affect the desirability of this course before it even gets started. Students should be very open-minded when undertaking this sort of course. Personality factors such as procrastination, etc. could greatly affect the success of this course. Students must be well discipline and self-disciplined to take such a course. Also, time alone can greatly influence a student's familiarity with performing the required computer tasks, and could be the factor that guarantees success of the student to the material.
Factors Jeopardizing External Validity: There are several factors that could jeopardize external validity. One would be that only college seniors were utilized for the experiment. Would the web-based course be effective for a sophomore or a junior student to take? Also, the setting of being at home or other off-site location can greatly affect the course work. It would be easy to generalize that the web-based course students would be at a greater disadvantage than the students taking the formal class.
Adequacy of Statistical Procedures Used: Questionnaires were given to the students and professor at the end of the course. This was the data that was used to determine how effective the experimental course was. Actually, what this helped determine was any changes that could be made to make the course more comfortable so that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. The scores on the exams for the course material were not an indicative data measure. When, in fact, these scores should have been used as a comparison against the formal class (control group) to determine if the web-based course students performed at a higher, lower, or same level as the formal class students.
Briefly Summarize Logic (Inductive and/or Deductive): The logic of this experiment is that computer technology necessitates a change in the approach to education at the university level. Web-based, web-enhanced, and full web courses are a few of the changes in education that this logic has brought about. Logic has arisen stating that professors should be removed from the task of teaching academic subjects and free themselves for more social issues, such as advising, assisting, and listening to students who may be having problems in their lives that could keep them from attending college. This is the logic that surrounds the empirical design of this web-based course.
Design Improvement: The course should be announced as an entirely web-based course and have no group gatherings in a class. Also, all exams should be given on-line. That way a more valid comparison could be made against the control group that attends the formal class. Also, a separate formal class should be offered and not have the web-based course students determine afterward that they want to take a formal class. This would make the experimental sample more valid. Data should be analyzed as far as desirability of the web-based course versus the formal class. Also, exam performance should be compared between the web-based course and the formal class to help determine if the web-based course participants performed higher, lower, or the same as the control group. This group is the posttest-only control group design. This design is represented as R X O1.
Pretests in the ordinary sense are impossible in this research, but a posttest is the most logical and convenient. The t test and covariance analysis and blocking on subject variables would be the appropriate statistical testing to use on this experimental design.
Extension of the Study: This study should go on for several years to determine the progression of web-based course as an effective means of teaching Health and Sexuality to college students.