Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A mixed methods study of shared epistemic agency in team projects in an online baccalaureate nursing course
by Hayes, Suzanne, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2014, 281; 3667396
Abstract (Summary)

This study explores the role of instructional design in the development of shared epistemic agency (SEA) when RN to BSN nursing students collaborate to complete a team project in an online course. Paavola & Hakkarainen's (2005) trialogical model of learning is used to design a learning activity where teams create a shared knowledge object, a co-authored patient interprofessional care plan to support group knowledge creation. The study addresses the following research questions: 1. What patterns of SEA are evident at the team level as manifest through epistemic and regulative actions in online student discourse? 2a. How did each team's epistemic and regulative decisions contribute to their shared knowledge object? 2b. How did the instructor's online interaction enhance or constrain each team's epistemic and regulative decisions? 2c. How did each team's use of project technology tools affect the development of their shared knowledge object? 3. What contributed to supporting or suppressing SEA in each team? These questions examine SEA in relationship to research in shared knowledge construction pedagogies and instructional design within nursing education.

This study uses a convergent parallel mixed methods design, in which both quantitative and qualitative data are collected, analyzed separately, and then merged (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Quantitative content analysis is used to examine student discourse for evidence of student epistemic and regulative actions. This is combined with two forms of qualitative analysis. Thematic analysis is used to examine student artifacts and interviews with team members and their instructor to gain deeper insight into the meanings of their epistemic and regulative experiences within this six week collaborative activity. Case analysis is used to describe and synthesize differences among teams that supported or constrained the development of SEA.

The quantitative strand of research found higher levels of regulative actions compared to epistemic actions in both teams. The qualitative strand of research identified two areas which constrained each team's development of SEA overall. The first related to a series of uncertainties related to apprehensions about working with team members for the first time, concerns about the project and the instructor's expectations, and doubts about using technology for collaboration. The second related to a series of disjunctures associated with students' discordent beliefs about collaboration; contradictory views of conflict; and, discrepent views of leadership.

Synthesis of these results resulted in six factors that contributed to supporting or suppressing SEA in each team: team contracts, the team wiki, propensity for regulative over epistemic actions, narrow views of conflict, misconceptions about collaborative learning, and the instructor's role. In light of these findings, theoretical and practical implications and recommendations are detailed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shea, Peter J.
Commitee: Agee, Jane M., Swan, Karen
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Educational Theory and Practice-Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Pedagogy, Nursing
Keywords: Collaboration, Knowledge construction, Learning presence, Online learning, Regulated learning, Shared epistemic agency
Publication Number: 3667396
ISBN: 978-1-321-41591-9
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