Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

John M. Peters

Committee Members

Caula Beyl, Carrie Stephens, Ralph Brockett


Research has shown that active classroom engagement increases the learning performance of students in higher education (Cross, 2000; Reese, 2013). This study sought to examine the experiences of students and instructor in a computer applications course in which the pedagogy was changed to encourage additional interaction among students and between students and the instructor. The goal of the study was to generate useful, practical knowledge (Reason & Bradbury, 2001) to help the instructor better understand her pedagogy with the intention of improving both her teaching practice and student learning outcomes, as well as to contribute to related literature in adult education, collaborative learning, and research on effective pedagogies in higher education. Peters and Armstrong’s (1998) typology of teaching and learning served as the framework for introduction of two additional types of pedagogies (discussion groups and collaborative learning) into a course traditionally taught utilizing predominately only one type of pedagogy (lecture). Students were interviewed immediately after the course ended and asked to describe their experiences in the course. Results showed that what stood out for students were the positive learning atmosphere, time spent getting to know one another, increased interactions among students and between students and the instructor, attention to process, and awareness of applications of course-related knowledge and skills to work environments. Instructor notes and observations were used as additional data sources to capture her experiences. She reported that she grew as an instructor and a person by forging ahead into new territory, despite anxieties, and practiced new teaching and learning types with her students. Because of the experience, she reported being more confident and a better instructor and facilitator of her own and others’ learning. Results led to the incorporation of discussion groups and collaborative learning into the instructor’s course in spreadsheet applications. Implications for future research were identified, including the need to replicate this study in similar content areas in other higher education settings.

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