SCENARIO-BASED ASSIGNMENTS AND THEIR LEARNING OUTCOMES IN ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSES
Southern Connecticut State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Distance learning presents new pedagogical challenges, but it also lends new opportunities. One of the challenges of online art history instructional design is to motivate the learner to learn about the discipline. The motivated and inspired student will conduct rigorous research to find an interesting fact about the work of art, will gain more knowledge and will come up with original ideas, will analyze rather than describe the artwork, will find supporting material to argue his or her opinion, will engage in a constructive dialogue with classmates to demonstrate his or her point.
In distance learning discussion boards have two main functions; they serve as a public space for building community and they are used for promotion of thoughtful, in-depth reflection, and knowledge construction through group interaction and idea sharing. One of the challenges of instructional design for distance learning is to achieve a combination of these two aspects of discussion board functionality. This paper demonstrates that through scenario-based assignments it is possible to create a collaborative learning environment, where active student-student and student-instruction interaction as well as effective knowledge construction takes place. When the discussion board assignments are too generalized, if not boring, the responses more often than not demonstrate lack of interest and lack of creativity. It is the instructor’s responsibility, therefore, to turn discussion board postings into challenging, intriguing activities and intellectually stimulating assignments.
Scenario-based assignments place the students into factual historical context, make connections to students’ lives, make them act in scenarios designed to encourage further inquiry into the details of the artists’, commissioners’, historical figures’ lives. Scenario-based assignments are particularly effective and foster students’ interest not only in art historical material but also the social, historical, religious conditions of the societies; they encourage creativity, motivation, inquiry. Students introduce factual and conceptual knowledge into their discussions, look for additional information, carry research on their own, and find data to support their arguments.
There are other definite advantages of using scenario-based assignments. These assignments are very precise and specific; specific assignments discourage plagiarism. If the assignment is too general the student might be tempted to find a readily available text on the Internet and copy and paste it into his discussion board posting. With an average number of four to five hundred postings per semester, it is impossible for an online instructor to check every posting for possible plagiarism. Considering the growing concern for academic plagiarism this aspect of the scenario-based assignments is a valuable feature to take into consideration.
This paper summarizes the most effective approaches taken to establishing group discussions in asynchronous online art history courses. It analyzes the effects and the learning outcomes of scenario-based assignments in online environments. The paper argues that scenario-based discussion board assignments motivate learners and enhance learning outcomes in distance education. Case studies drawing on examples from over sixty undergraduate online art history courses are provided to support this argument.
Keywords: Distance learning, scenario-based assignments, art history, discussion boards.