From Bronfenbrenner to Miley Cyrus: E-Tutors Aiding Undergraduate Students’ Understanding on Child Development Theories
Authors:Alexis Hemingway, Alejandra Medrano, Lorraine Parra, Cindy Ventura
Mentor:Shu-Chen Jenny Yen, Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton
It is estimated that 6.7 million college students are enrolled in online classes. As online courses become more popular, researchers have debated the benefits online learning offers students. This area of research focuses heavily on instructor facilitated online courses, where the instructor serves as the support system for students. However, little is known about the impact of having teacher’s assistants, or E-tutors, as an additional support system. Studies have shown that students achieve at higher academic levels in online classes, when they feel supported by an instructor or E-tutor, and are reinforced by receiving quality feedback for their work. Success is also determined by the amount of availability E-tutors provide students and how experienced they are with the course content. This study aimed to examine Vygotsky’s scaffolding process used by four E-tutors in an infant/toddler development course, by observing its impact on undergraduate students’ understanding of child development theories and the overall quality of their discussion posts. The thirty-five students enrolled in the class were randomly divided into four groups with a designated E-tutor per group. For the first four discussions, E-tutors provided sample posts that demonstrated high quality content. Students were encouraged to follow the format of the sample posts and were then allowed to engage in discussion with one another. Over the course of five weeks, students demonstrated improvement in the overall quality of the posts and discussions, improvement in their critical thinking skills, and a decrease in their grammar and spelling errors. Strategies learned from this process and implications will be discussed.