The affective domain, the learning environment and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy

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Background to the study

One of the well-known facts with regard to all learning programmes and the students involved is that some students finish a course while others do not. Lecturers, who communicate with students face-to-face in an interpersonal situation, may be able to explain this phenomenon more easily than those who have no personal contact with students. Lecturers in the traditional education environment may even be able to predict with some certainty which students will discontinue a course because they cannot cope. They are able to converse with students on a one-to-one basis and, from time to time, some students may make appointments to discuss problems that they experience.
This is true irrespective of the level or study year of students or the nature of the course. A large number of researchers have researched the reasons for students dropping out of courses. These reasons vary from financial considerations, not being able to cope with the academic demands, and even problems experienced with administration issues involved with student registration. However, knowing why students drop out is not enough to ensure that they stay on a course. Some of the main reasons for students staying in a course can be found in the affective domain of education. Students stay because they receive proper support from their lecturers, or enjoy subject content. However, the question is: What are the factors that cause students involved in online learning to stay in a course, and what are the students’ reasons for staying? Should we determine the factors that made students stay in a course, we might be able to build such factors into future courses, and enhance the affective support of online students.
The University of Pretoria deliberately attempted to expose students to a difficult and creative module. The module was active for six weeks. Twenty-four students started with the course and fifteen finished the course. I am a lecturer in Nursing Education and Advanced Dynamics of Nursing Sciences. In 1998, whilst doing an honours degree in Advanced Nursing Education, I attended a conference on multimedia. During this conference I realised the important role that information technology (IT) played in education, regardless of the discipline. Students doing master’s degrees in Computer-Assisted Education presented some of the papers. I was impressed by what I saw and heard, and enquired about the programme. Up to that point, I had limited knowledge of computers.
I used the software programmes Lotus Notes and Microsoft (MS) Word for typing tests and making graphs of student performance, and I knew that MS Windows operated my office computer. That was the full extent of my computer knowledge and computing abilities. I then applied to do the master’s course in Computer-Assisted Education. I went through a selection process of first being selected on paper (when applications were assessed), and then doing a three-hour written aptitude and intelligence test. The minimum requirements were an honours degree, or a bachelor’s degree in education, and familiarity with the “Microsoft environment”.
However, applicants’ computer literacy or computer knowledge was not tested. As I did not realise the implications of the term “MS environment”, I could not know what I did not know. When the programme started, I quickly realised the extent of my ignorance. I decided to take some computer courses, including a MS Office course (MS Advanced Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel and MS Access), Netscape Composer (excluding hypertext markup language – HTML coding), and a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) course, so that I could do the assignments. I experienced a lot of anxiety and stress, as I was applying most of the information in practice for the first time when I did the assignments. I was a lecturer, an academic and a colleague to my lecturers, and I felt extremely inadequate.

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Table of Content :

  • 1 Background to the study
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2 Background to the study
    • 1.3 Authorial representation
    • 1.4 Problem statement
    • 1.5 Research question
    • 1.6 Purpose
    • 1.7 Objectives
    • 1.8 The scope and context of the study
    • 1.9 Exclusions from this study
    • 1.10 Limitations of the study
    • 1.11 Significance and potential contribution of the study
    • 1.12 Definitions of key concepts
    • 1.13 Research method
    • 1.14 Research design
    • 1.14.1 Population and sampling
    • 1.14.2 Data collection
    • 1.14.3 Data analysis
    • 1.14.4 Authenticity and trustworthiness
    • 1.14.5 Crystallisation
    • 1.15 Literature control
    • 1.16 Ethical considerations
    • 1.17 Role/s of researcher/s
    • 1.18 Outline of this study
    • 1.19 Summary
  • 2 Literature in Context of this Study
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Active learning
    • 2.3 Interaction
    • 2.4 Cooperative and collaborative learning
    • 2.5 Constructivist learning
    • 2.6 The affective domain, the learning environment and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy
    • 2.7 Online learning and the affective domain
    • 2.8 Web-based collaborative learning
    • 2.9 Staying on an online course
    • 2.10 Previous research on affective experiences in online environments
    • 2.11 The nature of the experiences of the participants
    • 2.12 The literature and the research question
    • 2.13 The conceptual framework
    • 2.14 Summary
  • 3 The Research Methodology and Process
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 The nature of the study
    • 3.2.1 Exploratory nature of the study
    • 3.2.2 Descriptive nature of the study
    • 3.2.3 Contextual nature of the study
    • 3.3 The context of the study
    • 3.3.1 The module
    • 3.3.2 Online communication
    • 3.3.3 The rule on communication
    • 3.3.4 Assignments
    • 3.4 The research question and sub-questions
    • 3.5 The role of the researcher and others involved in this study
    • 3.5.1 People who assisted in this study
    • 3.5.2 The role of the interviewer
    • 3.6 Graphic presentation explaining roles and interactions
    • 3.7 Qualitative approach
    • 3.8 Research design
    • 3.9 Research paradigm
    • 3.10 Sampling
    • 3.11 Data collection
    • 3.11.1 Video recordings
    • 3.11.2 Field notes on first contact session
    • 3.11.3 Asynchronous electronic text messages
    • 3.11.4 Synchronous electronic text messages
    • 3.11.5 Focus group interviews
    • 3.12 Different sources of data
    • 3.13 Data analysis
    • 3.13.1 The unit of analysis
    • 3.14 Coding
    • 3.14.1 Description of Category
    • 3.14.2 Description of Category
    • 3.14.3 Description of Category
    • 3.15 Qualitative criteria
    • 3.15.1 Confirmability
    • 3.15.2 Meaning of the context
    • 3.15.3 Recurring patterning and saturation
    • 3.15.4 Credibility
    • 3.15.5 Transferability
    • 3.15.6 Crystallisation
    • 3.16 Reporting the research
    • 3.17 Ethical considerations
    • 3.17.1 Respect for others
    • 3.17.2 Fair treatment
    • 3.17.3 Protection from harm
    • 3.18 Summary
  • 4 Curative Factors
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Relation between curative factors and online learning
    • 4.3 Altruism versus individualism
    • 4.3.1 Fear of failing and disappointing tribe members
    • 4.3.2 Selfish behaviour versus assistance to group members
    • 4.3.3 Feeling guilty about selfish behaviour
    • 4.3.4 Group identification
    • 4.3.5 Emotional and cognitive support
    • 4.3.6 Risk-taking behaviour
    • 4.4 Communication
    • 4.4.1 Feeling of loneliness
    • 4.4.2 Asynchronous versus synchronous communication
    • 4.4.3 Expressing finding it difficult to cope
    • 4.4.4 Language
    • 4.4.5 Sharing positive and negative emotions
    • 4.5 Internal drive and value system
    • 4.5.1 Negative emotions such as feeling agitated (frustration)
    • 4.5.2 Feeling threatened and exposed
    • 4.5.3 Self-image and image
    • 4.5.4 Positive descriptions of experience
    • 4.5.5 Feedback from the lecturer
    • 4.5.6 Negative experience of module not being a game
    • 4.6 Literature control
    • 4.6.1 Altruism and individualism
    • 4.6.2 Communication
    • 4.6.3 Internal Drive and Value System
    • 4.7 Summary
  • 5 Process of Affective Development
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.2 The Process of Affective Development
    • 5.3 Initial phase: Responding to requirements
    • 5.3.1 Chaos and angst
    • 5.3.2 Recognition of own inability
    • 5.3.3 Recognition of difficulty of the learning process
    • 5.4 Second phase: Valuing, commitment and organising
    • 5.4.1 Dynamics of working in a team
    • 5.4.2 Lifestyle changes
    • 5.4.3 Self-management and self-talk
    • 5.5 Third phase: Internalisation
    • 5.5.1 Sense of achievement
    • 5.5.2 Cohesion
    • 5.5.3 Staying
    • 5.5.4 Giving and receiving support
    • 5.6 Assessment according to Krathwohl’s Taxonomy
    • 5.6.1 Receiving or attending
    • 5.6.2 Responding
    • 5.6.3 Valuing
    • 5.6.4 Organising
    • 5.6.5 Characterisation/ Internalisation
    • 5.6.6 Conclusion on Krathwohl
    • 5.7 Literature control
    • 5.7.1 Initial phase: Responding to requirements
    • 5.7.2 Second phase: Valuing, commitment and organising
    • 5.7.3 Third phase: Internalisation
    • 5.8 Model of a learning cycle, which integrates affect
    • 5.9 Summary
  • 6 Inhibiting factors
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 Inhibiting factors
    • 6.2.1 Negative experiences with regard to voting
    • 6.2.2 Insufficient information
    • 6.2.3 Lack of computer skills
    • 6.2.4 Groups and interaction issues
    • 6.2.5 Language problems
    • 6.2.6 Time and work overload
    • 6.2.7 Financial demands
    • 6.2.8 Problems with the service provider
    • 6.3 Literature control
    • 6.4 Summary
  • 7 Conclusions and Recommendations
    • 7.1 Introduction
    • 7.2 Summary
    • 7.3 Discussion of the sub-questions set for this study
    • 7.3.1 How do online students cope in an online learning environment?
    • 7.3.2 Why do online students ask for help?
    • 7.3.3 Why do online students offer help to their peers?
    • 7.3.4 What are the principal causes of motivation and frustration?
    • 7.3.5 What is the nature of the cooperation between group members?
    • 7.3.6 How do the affective experiences of students contribute to the successful
    • completion of an online course?
    • 7.3.7 What could make a student drop off a course regardless of volition?
    • 7.4 Reflections
    • 7.4.1 Methodological reflection
    • 7.4.2 Substantive reflection
    • 7.4.3 Study-specific reflection
    • 7.5 Recommendations for practice
    • 7.6 Recommendations for further research
    • 7.7 Closure
  • 8 List of Sources

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An investigation into the affective experiences of students in an online learning environment

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