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  • ATHABASCA UNIVERSITY

    PARTICIPANT PERCEPTIONS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF SITUATED LEARNING DESIGN IN THE DELIVERY OF ON-LINE TRAINING

    BY

    MICHAEL T. PRICE

    A Thesis submitted to the

    Athabasca University Governing Council in partial fulfillment

    Of the requirements for the degree of

    MASTER OF DISTANCE EDUCATION

    Athabasca, Alberta

    April 2005

  • ii

    DEDICATION

    This thesis is dedicated to my wife, Anne, and our son Christian. Without their support

    and encouragement I would not have undertaken and completed this project. Life long

    learning and goal setting requires a resolve that necessitates understanding and the

    support of many. To both of you, thanks so much for your patience.

    I would also like to recognize the support of my good friend Roger Wyatt, who

    completed his Master degree over 20 years ago, but still found the time to listen and

    encourage me during my thesis process. Thanks for the coffee Roger!

  • iii

    ABSTRACT

    Situated learning has been recognized as an important approach to the design of programs

    for professional training and development programs. Knowledge is gained in the context

    of problem situations that are representative of the group’s professional practice.

    Participants gain knowledge and interact with program content that reflects the day-to-

    day reality of their experience. The intent of this study was to explore the perceptions of

    members of the addictions counseling profession in Canada, relative to the situated

    learning design features they felt were important elements in training programs delivered

    on-line. A case study approach was employed in this study, utilizing two questionnaires

    and a telephone interview to ascertain which situated learning elements they perceived as

    being important in their program delivery. There were nine situated learning elements

    that they considered. The feedback from the sample group suggested that on-line training

    programs should consider including the “provision of authentic context” and that

    facilitation should ensure “coaching and scaffolding at critical times”. These were

    deemed as being very important instructional design elements that should be present in

    their training programs. A number of other design elements were also indicated as being

    of importance, including: “promotion of articulation, provide access to expert

    performance, promote reflection, provision of multiple perspectives and the provision of

    authentic activities”. The situated learning elements least valued by the addiction

    counselors were: “provision of collaborative construction of knowledge and the provision

    of integrated assessment of knowledge”. The ongoing formative and summative

    evaluation of programs delivered on-line training might consider gaining participant

    feedback on the design elements that they feel are important to their situated learning.

  • iv

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    I would like to acknowledge and thank my supervisor, Martha Cleveland-Innis who was

    enthusiastic about this project from the start and provided invaluable advice and counsel

    during its progress. Your insight and support certainly helped when I felt constantly, that

    I was falling into the abyss. Your clarity and focus kept me motivated and focused.

    Thanks for pushing me across the finish line!

    Thanks also to Mohamed Ali and Tom Jones for their support and advice as members of

    the advisory committee, for their timely and thoughtful comments.

    I would like to recognize the support of Jeff Wilbee, Executive Director and Janis Cramp,

    of the Alcohol and Drug Recovery Association of Ontario, who provided ongoing

    support and assistance in the development of this project.

  • v

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    CHAPTER I – INTRODUCTION .................................................................................1

    Background.......................................................................................................... 1

    Study Rationale ....................................................................................................4

    Theoretical Framework for Proposed Study ........................................................4

    Organization of the Thesis................................................................................... 6

    Statement of the Research Problem..................................................................... 6

    Research Questions.......................................................................................... 8

    Definition of Terms.......................................................................................... 9

    Limitations of the Study.....................................................................................11

    Summary............................................................................................................ 13

    CHAPTER II – REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE......................................... 15

    Theoretical Framework...................................................................................... 15

    Instructional Design and Situated Learning....................................................... 18

    Professional Development and Situated Learning............................................. 24

    Summary............................................................................................................ 29

    CHAPTER III – RESEARCH PROCEDURES.......................................................... 32

    Research Methodology...................................................................................... 32

    Synopsis of the Study.........................................................................................32

    Procedure........................................................................................................... 33

    Sample................................................................................................................34

    Instrumentation..................................................................................................36

  • vi

    Data Collection.................................................................................................. 39

    Treatment of the Data........................................................................................ 41

    Summary............................................................................................................ 42

    CHAPTER IV – FINDINGS....................................................................................... 44

    Plan of the Study................................................................................................ 44

    Subjects.............................................................................................................. 44

    Research Questions............................................................................................ 45

    Questionnaire 1 ..................................... ...........................................................46

    Questionnaire 2 ..................................................................................................51

    Telephone Interviews .........................................................................................55

    Summary of Findings.........................................................................................57

    CHAPTER V – DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS............................................. 62

    REFERENCES............................................................................................................ 70

    APPENDIX A .............................................................................................................73

    APPENDIX B .............................................................................................................76

    APPENDIX C .............................................................................................................79

    APPENDIX D.......................................................................................................…. 84

    APPENDIX E.......................................................................................................…. 85

  • vii

    LIST OF TABLES

    Page

    1. Yrs.Exp .......................................................................................................................36

    2. Instructional Design Feature ........................................................................................37

    3. Statistics……………………........................................................................................40

    4. Questionnaire One…………........................................................................................46

    5. Integrated Data For Questionnaire One ..................................................................… 46

    6. Integrated Data For Questionnaire Two……. .............................................................50