✯✯✯ Explain The Importance Of Setting Approaches To Motivation

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Explain The Importance Of Setting Approaches To Motivation



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Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

The elementary principal could select other elementary school principals in the same district. For example, an employee who feels underpaid at work compared to his co-workers under-reward might start taking longer breaks which decreases productivity reduced input. By decreasing inputs, the perception of equity is restored. Conversely, an employee who feels overpaid compared to co-workers over-reward might choose to start working through the lunch hour increased input. In both of these examples, the employee was dissatisfied with their perceived inequity and reduced or increased their input to achieve equity.

Even though the employee might ethically disagree with stealing, the employee justifies the action based upon the need to restore equity. An employee can also take more ethical action to increase inputs, such as lobbying for a wage increase or extra time off. On the other hand, an employee that perceives inequity due to a large holiday bonus over-reward might donate toys to the company daycare center reduced outcome. This restores the perception of equity in the workplace. Behavioral approaches can also cause an individual to attempt to change the input or outcome of their comparative other.

A group of employees might perceive that a co-worker is over-rewarded, so they might pressure their co-worker to work faster or improve quality. Conversely, an employee or group of employees might pressure a co-worker to slow down or work less. Cognitive processes involve developing justifications for the inequity to make it seem equitable, distorting perceptions of inputs and outcomes, changing the comparative other, or any other method that attempts to re-frame the perception of the situation. For example, a principal at an elementary school may perceive inequity because the high school principal earns more income and benefits even though they work in the same school district and have the same occupation.

The principal could choose to engage cognitive processes to restore equity instead of behavioral processes. The principal could justify that the high school principal has more credentials or manages a larger number of teachers. In this way, no actual change of inputs or outcomes occur but the elementary school principal justified changes in the perception of inputs. Distort one's own inputs or outcomes e. Distort the inputs or outcomes of others e. Change the comparison others Raja, The longer a person has had their comparison other the harder it is to change. Here is a step by step video to further illuminate these concepts Alanis Business Academy, :.

It is important to note that behavioral options in reducing inequity could involve risks. Many times employees find themselves avoiding these options because pursuing one of them and failing could be detrimental to the level of future rewards. As a result, the individual may end up feeling worse than before. Often employees decide to restore equity through mental processes instead cognitively. Altering your thought process is not perceived as the easier option; but it produces a minimal risk factor in comparison to changing your behavior Redmond Employers need to remember that employees can value different outcomes. For example, younger employees tend to value more pay Miles, et.

If an employee receives a higher salary than their co-worker they could still develop a perception of inequity if that co-worker has a flexible schedule, and that type of schedule is more valuable to them than extra salary. To combat this problem employers can implement two strategies. First, they could continually request feedback from employees to determine what they value and how they would prefer to be compensated. A second strategy is to offer a choice in benefits. For example, one employee might want to use a health flexible spending account while another employee might prefer to have a dependent care flexible spending account.

Employers can offer choices on health or dental insurance as well as other choices among benefits. This type of plan, called a cafeteria style, allows employees to select outcomes that they value most. This can help prevent perceptions of inequity because each employee has the outcomes that they value the highest. This helps increase their ratio of inputs to outcomes when compared to their co-workers. Employers can also utilize intangible rewards such as a pat on the back, a luncheon, or even simple praise in front of coworkers. These simple intangible rewards can help balance a measure of inputs and outcomes. Utilizing equity theory to understand how employees measure their inputs and outcomes can also help employers prevent problems related to perceptions of inequity, such as reduced productivity, theft or employee turn-over.

In addition to reducing or preventing negative behavior, employers will increase satisfaction and motivation in employees. The founder of equity theory, J. Stacy Adams, admitted that cognitive methods to reduce inequity had not proven to be extremely effective. However, Adams suggests that an individual attempt to alter the importance and relevance of his outcomes and inputs. In other words, one can choose to focus on other positive outcomes that is delivered by your inputs that the Other may not have access to. Task enhancement occurs when a person distorts their evaluation of the task at hand. One may choose to alter his perception of a mundane task to something that is interesting and valuable.

An individual will most likely use a process that is relatively easy and the most satisfying in restoring a perception of equity. As the main focus of the researchers moved towards employees and their motivation factors, following the Hawthorne Study results, there were many theories put forward to understand employee motivation. The following are the five major theories that have helped in understanding motivation. Maslow's Need-Hierarchy Theory: Maslow put forward five levels of needs of employees. These needs include physiological, safety, ego , and self-actualizing. Maslow put forward an argument that said the lower level needs of employees need to be satisfied before the next higher level need is fulfilled to motivate them.

The motivation was categorized into factors by Herzberg; motivators and hygiene. The motivators including intrinsic factors like achievement and recognition help produce job satisfaction. The hygiene or extrinsic factors like pay and job security lead to job dissatisfaction. Vroom's Theory: This theory was based on the belief that employee effort leads to performance and performance leads to rewards. These rewards can be positive or negative. The positive rewards lead to a more positive employee who is highly motivated.

The negative rewards lead to obviously a less motivated employee. Skinner's Theory: This theory states that the positive outcomes will be repeated and behavior that lead to negative outcome won't be repeated. Thus, managers should try to reinforce the employee behavior, such that it leads to positive outcomes. Negative reinforcement by managers will lead to negative outcomes.

This equity can be achieved when the ratio of employee outcomes over inputs is equal to other employee outcomes over inputs Baxamusa, Inputs consist of contributions by an individual. An attribute is only considered an input if it is perceived as relevant by the individual. Inputs can include abilities, effort, performance, age, seniority, education, and other attributes.

Outcomes are the rewards an individual receives for their inputs. Outcomes can include pay, benefits, status symbols, and even intrinsic rewards. The value of an outcome is determined by the recipient Adams, , so no outcome has a specific objective measure. For example, an individual might rate their college degree as a more valuable input than the college degree of another person due to their perception on a college's prestige.

An individual makes more money than a co-worker, but has a less flexible schedule; they might value the flexible schedule more than their extra income. Equity Theory can be applied in almost any exchange situation, so there are a multitude of components that can be listed as inputs or outcomes. Siegel, et al. For example, employees tend to distinguish inputs based on whether they are controllable or uncontrollable. Such as communications or attendance within controllable inputs, and seniority or job training within non-controllable inputs Siegel, et. Employees also distinguish differing characteristics of outcomes Siegel, et. Outcomes are evaluated on whether they are economic or noneconomic and whether they are personalized or generalized outcomes Siegel, et.

If managers can help prevent perceptions of inequality they can help prevent their employees from becoming de-motivated. Swinton developed a list of ways an employee can express motivation. This list is produced below. Research has found that other norms may exist which are dependent upon factors such as age or personality Huseman, et. The Equity Sensitivity Construct describes a spectrum of varying sensitivities to equity and inequity Huseman, et. The idea of equity sensitivity determines the extent to which an individual will tolerate inequity.

Equity sensitives will experience distress when faced with either type of inequity: under-reward or over-reward. Benevolents will experience distress and possibly guilt when they are in a situation of over-reward. Entitleds experience distress when in an equitable or under-reward situation. The Equity Sensitivity Construct is useful to understanding equity theory and individual behavior. However, the three categories of equity sensitivity do not account for all individual differences in preferences and behavior. Individuals might show different equity sensitivities in different contexts Huseman, et. For example, an individual might be equity sensitive in their personal relationships, preferring an equitable balance or they might be an entitled at work and feel comfortable with over-reward.

Specifically, there are differences in preference for extrinsic tangible outcomes versus intrinsic outcomes Miles, et. A specific example of this is in the realm of pay: entitleds rate pay higher in importance than the other two equity sensitivity groups Miles, et. Conversely, benevolents rate extrinsic outcomes lower in preference and show a stronger preference for intrinsic outcomes Miles, et. It is possible that some of these differences can be attributed to other factors such as age.

Younger workers and older workers value different things and the meaning of work varies by age Smith, With this is mind, it is possible that age, or other external factors, might play a part in which equity sensitivity group an individual is likely to be in. According to equity theory, perceived inequity comes from social comparisons Adams, A person to whom we compare ourselves to is called the Comparison Other.

There are several factors that an employee can use in determining the " comparison other. The comparisons are:. For example, a newly hired employee would choose "self-outside" since they would not have adequate experiences to compare in their current place of employment, whereas someone with a longer length of service would choose "self-inside". Equity Theory states that people strive hard to achieve and maintain a state of equity or fairness in order to maintain internal, psychological balance Adams, However, when ratios are different, a state of inequity exists, and employees will be motivated to bring it back into balance.

With both types of inequity, under and overpayment, the amount of inequity a person feels is proportional to the size of the difference between this person's ratio and their comparison other. Underpayment Inequity : Negative Inequity. As of current, Sarah has been with Corporation X for 3 years and is in line to move into a management position within the next six months. About three months ago, Corporation X hired another team member in the HR department to assist Sarah in her daily duties as they were getting too much for one person. One day at lunch Alison reveals her salary to Sarah and tells her that she is surprised a company would pay her that salary with no experience in HR. She is immediately leaded to feeling under-compensated considering she does most of the work and Alison just helps.

Sarah realizes that she needs to make Alison accountable for more projects so her inputs match her outputs. One day at lunch Alison reveals her salary to Sarah and tells her that she is surprised a company would pay her that salary starting out in their HR department even though she has experience elsewhere. Sarah realizes that she makes a few more dollars than Alison. She is immediately lead to feeling overcompensated considering she does most of the same work Alison does and gets paid more.

Sarah realizes that she needs to be accountable for a few more things than Alison so her inputs match her outputs. In the four decades since John Stacey Adams pioneered the Equity Theory of motivation, an extensive amount of research has been conducted testing the validity of this theory. The research has tested parts of the theory including the effects of over and under payment equity, equity sensitivity, and the behavioral and cognitive methods of reducing the dissonance caused by feelings of inequity. Within the work setting Equity Theory has been researched in several important areas.

Outlined below, research related to determine the effects of perceived equities or inequities on the level of worker motivation or satisfaction will be discussed. Lawler and O'Gara conducted their research via an experiment. Forty Yale University undergraduate students were hired to conduct interviews and were paid on a piece-rate basis. The workers were given two hours to complete as many interviews as possible. The researchers hypothesized that the workers who were in the underpaid group would produce more survey results in hopes of increasing their outcomes - making more money , but that the surveys they produced would be of a lower quality than the higher paid group.

Further, Lawler and O'Gara believed that the underpaid group would be less satisfied with their scope of work. The level of equity or inequity and the level of job satisfaction that was felt by both groups were measured after the work assignment using The California Personality Inventory scores for Job Performance and Job Attitudes. The study results proved that Equity Theory was applicable in the work environment. The underpaid group experienced feelings of inequity using the higher paid group members as their comparative others. Further, the hypothesis that the underpaid worker would produce more work output via conducting more interviews was indeed correct. Lawler and O'Gara determined that this group was increasing their personal outcomes to earn more money by working harder to make up for the piece-rate inequity.

Additionally, the researchers proved their position that the work of the underpaid group would be of poorer quality than the group who experienced fewer feelings of inequity the higher paid group. The interview results of the lower paid group had fewer recorded results; thus, their inputs were also reduced in response to perceived inequities. Greenberg stated that, "according to equity theory, workers who receive levels of reward higher or lower than coworkers who made equivalent contributions to their jobs are considered overpaid and underpaid respectively" p.

Since research on equity theory had previously studied pay, Greenberg wanted to study workplace status as an outcome of equity theory. The purpose of this study was to assess whether equity theory applied to situations where employees experienced inconsistencies between their job status and work area Redmond, Greenberg found a company that was refurbishing their offices and was able to manipulate variables. The sample group was employees from an insurance company with the independent variable being office conditions of higher, lower, or equal status. The dependent variables were the job performance and satisfaction of the employees. The data was collected at six intervals, two before reassignment, two during, and two after Redmond, Greenberg hypothesized that employees assigned to offices of higher status would be more productive than those assigned to offices of equal status employees.

Similarly, workers transferred to offices of lower status were expected to be less productive than those placed in offices of equal-status workers Redmond, Greenberg was correct in his hypothesis and now had results showing that money was not the only driving factor for equity theory. Critics of this study point out that this was a short-term study that shows no long-term results. In this study, Greenberg looked at employee theft as a reaction to inequity. A manufacturing company had lost two large contracts which forced the company to temporarily reduce pay of their employees in Plants A and B while employees in Plant C did not have to reduce pay. Plant A workers received a minute meeting to explain these pay cuts while workers of Plant B received only a minute meeting.

Greenberg hypothesized that Plant B would experience a large increase in employee theft, Plant A would experience a slight increase, while Plant C's theft rate would stay the same. Two categories of dependent measures were used, data on employee theft and self-report measures were reported as well Greenberg, Once again, his theories were correct. Plant B experienced a large increase in theft while Plant A experienced a smaller increase. Plant C's employee theft remained the same Greenberg, Cowherd and Levine used a sample business units in 41 corporations to examine whether the size of the pay differential between lower-level employees and top management had any impact on product quality.

Cowherd and Levine suggest that individuals often compare their pay to that of people higher in the organization structure. If lower-level employees feel inequitably treated, they may seek to reduce their effort to achieve equity. Quality, in their study, was defined as customer perceptions of the quality of goods and services. They hypothesized that extra role, or citizenship behaviors, such as freely offering to help others, following the spirit rather than letter of rules, and correcting errors that would ordinarily escape notice, would be less likely when pay differentials between hourly and top managerial employees were large.

Their results supported this hypothesis, suggesting that organizations need to take care that they do not forget the potential adverse motivational consequences of executive pay for the motivation of other employees. Gauging the level of tolerance for inequities is an important field of study in Equity Theory. From an employer's perspective, it may often be necessary to know which employees will be sensitive to any level of inequalities derived from work policies or practices. The proposition of the study was that some individuals are uniquely sensitive to perceptions of equity or inequity and will, in turn, react accordingly based upon their perceptions. The equity sensitive construct, according to the researchers, is defined as the investigation of a person's "perception of what is and what is not equity, and then uses that information to make predictions about reactions to inequity" King, et.

The study classifies people as either "benevolents, equity sensitives, or entitleds" King, et al. Thirteen separate hypotheses were evaluated in this research study. The researchers first administered tests to the participants to determine their level of equity sensitivity. The participants were then assigned randomly to either under reward or over reward conditions. The results showed that all of the researchers' hypotheses were consistent with the equity sensitivity construct.

The researchers did find that the "manipulations of outcomes was a stronger cause of dissatisfaction than was manipulation of inputs" King, et. The researchers confirmed that there is "strong support for the equity sensitivity construct and its incorporation into equity theory to enhance its predictive power" King, et. The results of this research further help make Equity Theory germane to the workplace, allowing employers to make initial assumptions about how employees may react to potential or perceived inequities, based upon their employees' beliefs and personal norms. Nurses work in a field where much of their motivation and reward comes from the act and feelings they get from helping others in very desperate times. In addition, the nurses who had a higher need for control over situations experienced a higher degree of this burnout, whereas the nurses who had a higher degree of intrinsic motivation experienced lower burnout or emotional distress.

Practical implications of this study could be used to restructure how workloads are distributed. Wage satisfaction and social comparison relationships has been the subject of several research studies over the past 30 years. Paul D Sweeney and Dean B. Sweeney and McFarlin hypothesized based on the Equity Theory that as employees compared their wages to similar others; their wage satisfaction would vary based on that social comparison. Four individual survey-based studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that wage satisfaction would more likely be affected by comparison to similar others in order to determine if their wage was fair.

In the first two studies, subjects were asked to compare satisfaction with others in a similar occupation within and outside of their current organization. In the third and fourth studies wage satisfaction was compared with employees who had similar and dissimilar occupations. Two hundred and thirty-five engineers at a Midwest utility company were mailed surveys to collect salary, age, sex, marital status, tenure, and job grade. The survey also collected data from scale rated questions pertaining to satisfaction of their pay and their perception of how others are paid with similar jobs outside the organization.

During this study researchers attempted to replicate their findings from study 1 by using a large sample of US federal government workers from the Office of Personnel Management. During this study the construct of similarity was viewed based on similar and dissimilar occupations. The survey-based data were collected using a multistage area probability sampling procedure where each data point came from someone who was at least 18 years old and employed.

Like the first two studies the questions were scale based and represented perceptions about their wage and their relative satisfaction. This study was researched in order to replicate the results of Study 3 and pulled data from the same University of Michigan research project while using an entirely different sample using the same 18 and older and employed criteria. The results and conclusions were the same as Study 3. The results of all of the studies were surprising to the researchers.

The most important predictor of wage satisfaction was the level of income and although comparisons to similar others did show a strong correlation, so did comparisons to dissimilar others. Defining the similarity construct as an occupation or organizational comparison did not change the strength of income being the strongest predictor of satisfaction. Also, this would explain that our social comparison of the most similar others would have the greatest impact but in the case of wages there seems to be the other primary factor of income level and what that means to an employee that determines level of satisfaction.

The study was completed on the basis that equity theory indicates that workers react to and modify their work behavior based upon the speed or rate of the work of the people around them. The hypothesis under evaluation was: "In additive interdependent work situations, workers will adjust their speed toward the speed of their coworkers, creating a correlation among processing times" Schultz, et. Data was examined for three production lines of a major automobile manufacturer. One hundred forty-eight workers' task times for a period of six months' work was recorded and reviewed. The researchers believed that the positive correlations found between the speed of a worker and the speed of his or her co-worker were consistent with Equity Theory, as workers desired to decrease gaps between their work pace inputs and the work pace of their co-workers.

The study results were purported as important in design of assembly lines such that workstations should be arranged as to take advantage of this equity theory effect by allowing workers only to be able to see the employees who are the fastest in the plant. Both classical and contemporary research supports the validity of Equity Theory and its application in the work setting. While Equity Theory is supported as fact when reviewing the actions and behaviors of those who feel they are subject to inequities, additional research into how Equity Theory can be used proactively to increase the motivation and behavior of workers is necessary. In , Gino and Pierce conducted a research study in order to determine when it is that people act dishonestly to either help or hurt others.

They had two experiments. The first was to analyze the effects of emotional reactions to inequity. The second was to analyze how far individuals would go to help one another. The participants in this study were mostly students from Carnegie Mellon University. They were divided into groups and either did or did not receive money. They then had to grade problems completed by the individual with whom they were paired. If the solver got the problem right, he would get money. They tried to determine if individuals would be dishonest in reporting whether or not the solver actually completed the problem correctly. They found that individuals did help when there is equity having money or not.

The implications of this study suggest that managers should try to keep equity between employees, because when inequity occurs, dishonesty will also occur. Very recently, researchers Liu, Yang, and Nauta conducted a study that broadens most research on the relationships between supervisor conflict, procedural injustice and job strain. Their study presents a more complex model of how perceived injustice influences employees' job strains than is currently available in the literature. According to the process model of conflict, Liu et. This is often seen in the workplace and is common in the relationships held between a supervisor and an employee. The result is a strain in the equity shared between the two.

Based on previous research on the Equity Theory, when employees perceive a lack of fairness at work, they react negatively toward the source of unfairness. Thus, because employees usually attribute procedural injustice to supervisors, Liu, Yang and Nauta's first goal was to investigate procedural injustice as a possible predictor of supervisor conflict, not just a cause. Procedural injustice, as portrayed in this study, refers to perceived unfairness with respect to the procedures used to determine outcome distributions Liu et. To further examine procedural injustice as a predictor of conflict in a work setting, university employees were randomly selected and mailed survey packets including an extra survey they were to give to a co-worker to fill out.

The questions on these packets centered around supervisor conflict, procedural injustice, power distance, anxiety and depression. Once these surveys were mailed back, the data were analyzed. In the results of this study, it was found that procedural injustice could in fact be identified as a possible predictor for supervisor conflict. Based on employee—coworker dyad data, Liu and her colleagues found that perceived procedural injustice was positively related to reported conflict with supervisors.

Second, power distance moderated procedural injustice in relation to supervisor conflict, as reported by both employees and their coworkers. Finally, supervisor conflict self-reported mediated the relations between procedural injustice and job strains i. This study adds literature to current research relative to problems in a work setting. Relationships held between supervisors and employees must have equity in order to succeed and maintain perceived justice. This study opens up many opportunities to conduct further research on conflict in the workplace, as well as ways interventions can be implemented in a work setting guided by the Equity Theory.

Most of the research into Equity Theory thus far has been experimental in nature and concerned with interpersonal relationships. While this is important, especially to social psychologists, new insights can be gained by looking on a larger level. By looking at Equity Theory on a broader scale, a more complete theory can evolve. Instead of focusing on just person to person and person to organization aspects, the opportunity exists to refocus on a larger scale such as how companies as a whole function in a corporate world. The people who run the companies and make the decisions run their numbers against how their competitors are doing. Their competitors can serve as comparison others. How does the company as a whole deal with their comparison other? To resolve what is essentially an underpayment inequity, if the company is not doing well, the same rules can apply and the company can work harder and look internally to see how they can resolve the inequity.

Another avenue for future research would be a cultural analysis. The opportunity is there to see what cultures are more compatible with equity theory and which, like Eastern cultures, stress equality instead. Finding out what cultures are compatible with the theory and which are not could give us insight into better ways for us to operate and why what these cultures emphasize instead works for them. Staff members that work with the disabled are often plagued with feelings of being under-benefited Disley, Future research calls for an investigation into the equity perceptions of the staff to determine the relevant rewards and inputs, as well as who their comparison others are.

Is the staff aware of the impact their perceptions have on their peace of mind as well as how they perform at work? How much does the inequity they feel at work impact how they perform at work and does it affect the disabled that they are there to help? For example, Some professors let you discuss in the class. Some instructor speaks a lot and you don't have time to discuss with your classmates. Interaction with students is totally different depend on the professor. I do have a class that you need to talk a lot. Other classes you don't really say a word until you leave Jacob. Instructor plays a major role as well. If the instructor is he just I want to teach the course, come to the class, that's it. It's highly discouraging student communication.

But I met instructors in the regular class, traditional class, where he encourage students to email stuff around and post news and bring something they want to discuss or email or post to blackboard or something, that might help. So depends on the professor Judd. Current distance education practices in general utilized some computer technologies such as the internet and instructional software such as blackboard. Therefore, how well an instructor used such technologies had an impact on the quality of their teaching.

The institutions faced difficulties in putting instructors abreast with current technology development, and more importantly in understanding how the instructors can use the technology in an innovative way that makes a difference in student interactions. Just like Andrew said that, We have much large potential to facilitate interaction than what we current do If the teacher has to know how to use it and they have to be conscious about how they are going to use it However faculty doesn't want to get trained and also a lot of them are not comfortable with technology yet until the level they can get beyond the basics and think about the innovation. Another equally important factor identified in this study is the learner factor and there are three themes under it: learning style, motivation, and satisfaction.

Similar to the teaching style under the instructor factor, different learning styles also had an impact on the interaction process. Some liked to go to class and interact with other students, while others liked to study on their own and not interact with other students or interact with other students as little as possible. Such differences in learning style can be seen from students' discussion of their satisfactions with distance education courses. For example, So it depends on your learning style as well. If you like to work on your own and figure out things on your own, perhaps to learn from the group you might have to do more work than on your own, it depends on the learning style Jacob.

It depends on the types of students and the course. And if the course is really difficult and it cause lots of explanation from the professor you know it's not like something you can just pass. That will be hard. It also depends on the students. Some students they can learn easily by the book or they learn easily by coming to the class and listen. It depends Judd. For the students who liked to have the support from their classmates, the lack of interactions in distance education courses decreased their interests in such courses.

On the contrary, for the students who are independent learners and like to figure out things on their own, the lack of student interactions appeared to have little impact on their preference of distance education. Therefore, learning style showed as a factor in deciding how much a student will interact with other students and how satisfied they are with the distance education courses. Motivation which mainly deals with the motive a student has to interact with other students was an important factor in assessing a student's desire to initiate interactions. Judging from the co-researchers' experiences, the motivation to interact with other students in distance education courses was strikingly low.

Many of them stated that there was not any incentive for them to email other students or post and respond to the message board. For example, Andrew said, If it interaction is not part of the course, um It's no real kind of incentive to do more work There isn't enough time to be innovated on your own. So it's really how the teachers use the system that affects how the course goes. The low motivation to interact among distance education students can be explained by combining it with the convenience issue. When the students took advantage of the convenience that distance education gave them by not coming to classes in a physical location, they had more flexibility in working on other things in their lives.

As a result, they did not want to put more time and effort in interacting with other students if they were able to pass the course by themselves anyway. The satisfaction the students felt toward a distance education course was related to the student interactions in a large degree. The majority of the participants thought the interaction is an important component of their learning experience. For example, I didn't, I didn't like it the distance education course as much as a traditional class because I really didn't I didn't talk to my classmates , I don't know, I didn't even talk to the teacher Chad.

The most successful course I think is the professors had us to do a lot of discussion. So lots of posting to the discussion boards and responding to each others' posts and asking questions to dialogue um Also having us to collaborate on a project Andrew. Another factor that emerged from the data analysis process was the differences from a traditional course factor. The three sub-themes are self-study, self-discipline, and different time frames.

The majority of the co-researchers portrayed their distance education courses as self-study courses. For example, But overall, we prepare ourselves. We take notes and so forth but that's it. That's the way I take online course. I think it is a self-study course Chad. The biggest difference I would say is learning the materials on your own by yourself instead of having someone teach the material to us. Actually being a teacher. That's the biggest problem Jacob. Such perceptions of distance learning courses led to independent learning styles among students. The students thought they needed to study by themselves and did not want to contact their classmates. As a result, they were less likely to interact with their classmates.

These students' perceptions of distance learning courses were closely related to the instructors' course design strategies. If an instructor only sent the course syllabus and reading list at the beginning of the course and expected the students to do everything on their own, it was easy for students to draw a conclusion that online courses are self-study courses. From another angle, such perceptions also indicated the failure of including interactions in distance education courses.

Self-discipline is a topic mentioned by every co-researcher. It basically means that students have to set up a schedule to study in order not to procrastinate. Contrary to a traditional class, the distance education course did not give the students the opportunities to discuss many issues in the classroom every week. Therefore, the students needed to make sure that they finished the amount of the work every week so they would not fall behind schedule. Since the students usually had other things to do, it was easy to procrastinate and do everything at the last minute. For example, It's harder on the students because when we meet in classroom you kind like encourage They enforce it. Because if you don't come to the class, discipline yourself and then most likely you will not succeed Judd.

It is very hard to be motivated to get the work done. And if you do an online class, you really have to be a good time manager, because it's easy just not to do the work sometimes. Because you don't go to the class, the only thing get you motivated to get stuff done is the due date so in that perspective, it is hard. You have to really be able to plan yourself and plan your time because no one will do it for you Andrew.

There was generally a supportive relationship between self-discipline and student interaction. Student interaction can help students' self-discipline by keeping them on track. At the same time, a student who was self-disciplined had a better chance to interact with other students. Young shows us that, You can't just sit in your corner and then expect everybody to believe that you did the work. There has got to be something, and in order for it to be effective it needs not to be an end of semester hurdle that you jump over. It needs to be ongoing feedback so that people can basically take corrective actions if corrective actions are needed. They can check with others and say I need to do a little something because I'm falling behind.

At the same time, because most students in distance education courses sent information to each other by email or posting on the message board, they usually did not get the responses right away. Therefore, there was a time differential between asking questions and receiving responses. Some students were not comfortable with such time lagging. As a result, they did not like the way students interacted with each other in distance education courses and felt isolated or anxious. For example, Andrew did not mind the time lagging issue. He said, But online you have to post something and then write about it and explain it and then wait for somebody else to respond to you.

So it might take a little more time It would be just in different time frames. I think you just have to give somebody more time to do that. However, Young did not like it. He said, One of the things is that you got to have a wide enough pipeline so that students don't get frustrated with responses. In other words, if I'm typing a response, I don't want to hit a letter and then have to wait. The course factor included two themes: difficulty and type. Difficulty means how difficult a course was.

Some of the co-researchers divided their courses into higher division courses and lower division courses. The more difficult a course, the more the course required student interactions and vice versa. For example, Judd stated that, But if it is higher division courses, I would rather take a traditional class You get help from your friends, you can meet, and do group project, even to study together. The type of courses also mattered to the amount of student interactions in distance education courses. Some subjects required more student interactions than others.

For the type of courses that required more student interactions, it was natural to see more student interactions happen. As an example, Jacob who is an independent learner, said that, So if I have questions, I would go straight to the professor. I tried to figure out things on my own However Math classes aren't as factual. Yeah, it deals with lot more with formulas, equations when to use each one. I do think that I definitely would ask my classmates and also study more time with my professor. Another factor was the convenience factor. As discussed earlier, the time and space separation in distance education courses provided convenience to the students by allowing them more flexibility in managing their time and activities in their personal lives. Although this feature of distance education does not relate to student interactions directly, it is closely related to the learners' motivation and the instructors' course design as mentioned earlier.

Therefore, it was an important component in determining student interactions. The student interaction phenomenon in a distance education setting is intertwined with many factors in an institutional setting. Therefore, in order to understand student interactions in distance education courses better, an investigation into this issue with a bigger picture in mind is needed. The major implications of this study impacts the areas of complexity, learning community, and learner differences as it pertains to student interactions in distance education.

The student interaction issue was never an isolated issue which only matters between students. It actually related to the whole components of an institution. Cox applies the institutional theory to higher education institutions and concludes that six basic components underly the institutions' capacity of offering distance education courses. From our study results, we can draw the conclusion that the design of a distance education course or program in a large degree related to the amount of student interactions occurring in a course.

For the courses or programs that encouraged student interaction and counted it as part of the evaluation of student performance, it was natural to see more student interactions in them. A common theme in the study results section showed that instructors played an important role in this picture. John Cowan, a renowned professor for his work in fostering learner-centered courses in British Open University, suggested the instructors to count the issues they value into part of the grade Lebaron and Miller, For example, if an instructor values student interaction, then he or she needs to state in the syllabus that student interaction will count for x amount of the grade.

If not, it is easy to let students complete the courses without interacting with other students. However, in order to add the six basic components supporting distance education discussed in this paper, instructors need tremendous assistance from the administrators. The administrators need to enlist the help of financial and technology technicians, teachers' training staff, and a team of online program coordinators in order to provide an online course successfully. In fact, all people affected by distance education programs should be responsible in improving the quality of the online courses. Drawing from the successful experiences of Andrew and Young, the program and curriculum design largely affected the amount of student interaction in a distance education course.

The design which clearly imbeds the component of promoting interactive activities had a better chance to increase students' satisfaction with the courses. In the study, several participants perceived their distance education courses as self-study courses because their instructors only uploaded the syllabus and readings online and let them follow the syllabus. In their description of distance education experiences, we can tell that there was no sense of an online learning community in the course of their study. To an extreme, some students even thought self-study is the way that distance education works. However, numerous studies have pointed out the idea of learning as a social activity Bandura, ; Vygosky, and the necessity of building an online learning community Bender, ; Salmon, Therefore, how to proceed to set up such a community is an important topic for many online courses and program administrators and designers.

One recommendation drawn from this study is setting up initial meetings to get students familiar with each other and to identify the different areas of knowledge their classmates possess. Building on that foundation, it will be more likely for the students to take the initiative to contact each other and learn from each other. At the same time, another issue worth discussing here is the mono-communication method used among the co-researchers in this study.

For example, we only see text-based communications such as email, discussion boards, instant massaging, and newsgroups as the only way to communicate with other students. Other communication methods such as the telephone, video conferencing, or interactive software were rarely or never used. Considering the vast potential computer technology brings to us, innovation on this area should be included as part of the plan in building our online learning communities. Lin et al. Jung's eight psychological types are the combination of introversion, extraversion, intuition, imagination, thinking and feeling. The conclusions the authors draw are 1 the ways individuals tend to interact with the online media are consistent with their ways of interacting with their traditional face-to-face learning environment and 2 the distance education environments can provide an integrative approach in which each of the psychological type can be honored.

For example, for an introvert learner, asynchronous written discussions offer them time to think and reflect before posting their thoughts; for an extrovert learner, viewing different perspectives otherwise unavailable improves their learning experiences. Although our study displayed the differences between the different types of learners and their reactions to student interactions in distance education, it is not nearly as complicated as Jung's eight psychological types. However, the piece of the instructors' intention of compromising different learning styles was missing.

Previous studies have shown that online courses tend to use pedagogies that are same for all the students Kapitzke and Pendergast, However, in order to meet the diverse needs of all students in an online context, both the course design and the pedagogical approach need to be re-conceptualized Husmann and Miller, Therefore, this study reminds us again the importance of designing courses that fit all the students' needs. Judging from this study, there is a relationship between learning style and the amount of interaction.

However, if we combine learning styles with the principle of building an online learning community and the psychological type theory, learners with different learning styles should all be active in the interaction activities because such activities can satisfy every learner's needs if the course design and pedagogical approach is re-conceptualized. There are several limitations in this study: 1 although the focus of this study is student interaction, it is also beneficial to conduct interviews with instructors, administrators, and other related personnel. By only interviewing the students, it is harder to see the whole picture of this phenomenon because it intertwines with so many other issues in an institutional setting.

As mentioned in the data analysis section, different types of distance education have an impact on the student interaction behavior. A comparison of different modalities such as written, spoken or images could have been implemented. Such distinctions of interactions would improve the quality of systematic analysis of this phenomenon. In conclusion, student interaction is a complicated issue that needs more research to increase our understanding as it applies to distance education.

By interviewing and observing the students who have taken distance education courses, this phenomenological study not only reminds us of the complex nature of this issue, it also presents us an interactive relationship of the related factors and themes underlying the interactive behaviors of students. To follow the factors and themes further, we can investigate how exactly all the factors and themes play a role in the interaction process and thus design a better distance education model to encourage student interactions and build an online learning community. At the same time, we can also use the factors and themes as the foundation to investigate its relationships with the components in an institutional setting or the social setting and thus see the bigger picture of this phenomenon.

In a sum, there are many possibilities for us to continue researching this issue and appreciate the importance and complexities it brings to distance education. Allen, E. Retrieved Nov. Bender, T. Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning: Theory, practice and assessment. Sterling, VA: Stylus. Blanck, P. Scientific rewards and conflicts of ethical choices in human subjects research. American psychologists , 47, 7, Boulos, M. A synchronous communication experiment within an online distance learning program: A case study.

Telemedicine journal and e-health, 11, 5, Bruce, B. Plants, pathogens, and people: Extending the classroom to the web. Teachers college record , , 8, Burbules, N. Universities in transition: The promise and the challenge of new technologies. Teachers college record , , 2, Creswell, J. Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Crotty, M. The foundations of social science research. Thousand Oaks, Sage. Digest of Education Statistics, Fontana, A. In Norman K. Lincoln Eds. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage. Galusha, J. Barriers to learning in distance education. Retrieved September 20th. Husmann, D. Improving distance education: Perceptions of program administrators.

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