Comparing Self-paced and Cohort-based Online Courses for Teachers

Jun. 30, 2009

Source: Journal of Research of Technology in Education, Volume 41 Number 4,  (Summer 2009).

The study explored whether online professional development courses with different levels of support have different impacts on teacher outcomes. Variations of an online course for middle school algebra teachers were created for four experimental conditions. One was a highly supported condition: It included a math education instructor, an online facilitator, and asynchronous peer interactions among participants available as participants worked through the course together. Another was a self-paced condition, in which none of the supports were available. The other two conditions provided intermediate levels of support.
All conditions showed significant impact on teachers’ mathematical understanding, pedagogical beliefs, and instructional practices. Surprisingly, the positive outcomes were comparable across all four conditions. Further research is needed to determine whether this finding is limited to self-selected teachers, the specifics of this online course, or other factors that limit generalizability.

Updated: Jul. 06, 2009