This paper reports on the synthesis of multiple user-centered design (UCD) tools to develop a model for student help seeking in STEM courses. Data used to construct the model was gathered among science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduates enrolled in distance-delivered calculus. The resultant help seeking “usage model” serves as a final project outcome of an NSF sponsored TUES Type I project entitled “Online Learning Forums for Improved Engineering Student Outcomes in Calculus.”
The goal of the study was to explore the use of a web-based, asynchronous learning forum, implemented as a class-based treatment intervention, to improve student outcomes in distance-delivered (i.e., synchronous broadcast) engineering calculus courses. Using a quasi-experimental, mixed methods approach, we gathered quantitative (i.e., exam scores, affective survey responses, forum posting statistics) and qualitative (i.e., forum textual posts, student and instructor interview transcripts, and classroom observational field notes) data from science, engineering, and mathematics undergraduates enrolled in control and treatment sections of Calculus I and II. Students enrolled within treatment sections were provided access to the online forum intervention and required to post weekly for the purposes of help seeking and discussion on problem-solving assignments. Taken as a whole, the mixed dataset presented a rich picture of the help seeking processes that students used in the course.
Our approach toward analyzing data and presenting project findings in the form of a usage model related to undergraduate help seeking in distance courses was motivated by the (a) need to integrate mixed data (i.e., quantitative and qualitative data) describing student help seeking behaviors, needs, attitudes, and goals within a holistic set of easy-to-use findings and (b) desire to expand the base of knowledge related to the application of UCD tools for student-focused curricular design in STEM education. In this paper, we describe our approach for developing the project usage model. Using examples from our analysis, we show and describe the steps taken to construct the model by jointly developing and combining three specific user-centered design tools (i.e., personas, scenarios, and landing zones) using an iterative, qualitative approach. Conclusions in the form of lessons learned and next steps are also presented.
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