Keeping students' attention in an online setting is not always easy. In addition to the lack of non-verbal feedback, there are other factors. which lecturers have no control over. Therefore, simply providing information does not mean that students will actively listen. It is necessary to set up a support structure that helps students to be focused. The Department of Business Administration Online has investigated how interactive online lectures need to be in order for this to occur.
Lectures at the Department of Business Administration Online are held in the evenings from 6 pm to 10 pm in a synchronous online format. On-site weekend lectures are typically held three times per semester. However, due to pandemic restrictions, all synchronous formats were taught online. These late teaching times and long online days create an additional challenge.
The majority of students in the Betriebswirtschaft Online, Business Administration Online, and Corporate Governance & Finance Online programs also work, making it all the more important for instructors to make teaching interactive to keep concentration levels as high as possible. Various online tools as well as the interactive possibilities of the conference tool (Adobe Connect) are used regularly. Our lecturer, Wendy Farrell, wanted to find out if and to what extent formative assessments have an impact on student engagement and the achievement of desired learning goals.
One possible form of formative assessment includes questions asked during the lecture and discussions about the solutions. The lecturer used quizzes and smaller surveys for her research, which she was able to embed directly in the Adobe Connect tool. She conducted her research in three undergraduate courses and three master's courses (384 students in total). Her primary goal was to keep the concentration level high and to make sure that the content was understood correctly. To do this, she launched a short quiz or survey every 5 or 10 minutes during the lecture. These smaller quizzes not only allowed for monitoring the students progress, but also allowed for adjustment of content or teaching method if necessary.
The effectiveness of these surveys was then examined at two levels: Reaction and Learning Outcomes. At the reaction level, students reported that they felt engaged during the lectures and greatly appreciated the high level of interaction. At the learning level, we examined whether students' interactivity or grade point average had more impact on the learning outcomes of each course. Statistical analysis underlined the importance of interaction and showed that the quizzes and surveys had a greater impact on students' learning outcomes than the individual grade point averages with which students came to the webinar.
In summary, two research findings can be highlighted. First, it is important to provide greater interactivity in a webinar because it gives students a chance to engage with the content more deeply. Second, the research highlights the use of formative assessments and learning analytics. They enable instructors to understand students' needs and better tailor course content to meet their needs. This creates an overall positive impact on the final grade.
Interactive teaching in an online setting brings some benefits. Photo: George Milton from Pexels.