Affective behaviors in e-learning

Do affective behaviors make a difference in online learning? Does critical thinking benefit from affective behaviors? Should there be an affective component built into future design and development of online learning?

This author did a study of an online course in healthcare management in 2006 to address these questions. The study investigated the relationship of affective and critical thinking interactions in online learning. The study examined: (a) how students demonstrate critical thinking events (b) what critical thinking events appear following affective events, and (c) what critical thinking events appear following emotion, humor, and self-disclosure. This study examined the online transcripts from the student postings that ere classified into critical thinking and affective categories and seventeen subsets called indicators. Since this is an emerging area of research this researcher developed the Affective and Critical Thinking Interaction Template (ACTIT). This template incorporated the above critical thinking and affective categories and indicators that were used to analyze online transcript data.

This study also validated an instrument and method to examine the relationship of affective and critical thinking. The results of this study indicated that the critical thinking seemed to be dependent on affective behaviors. In the four groups that were studied, some group members’ affective interaction events increased and in turn their critical thinking g interaction events increased. On the other hand, some group members’ affective interaction events were low and it followed that their critical thinking events were similarly low.

The findings in this study suggested that affective behaviors made a difference in online learning. Critical thinking seemed to benefit from affective behaviors. In future design of online learning, strategies should include an affective component. In addition, faculty and student orientation could incorporate these strategies.

The ACTIT could provide a guideline for implementation of the affective component in online learning.
ACTIT: Establish Problem, Idea Generation (Divergent Thinking), Integration (Convergent Thinking), Resolution, and Affective.

ACTIT Check out the ACTIT diagram.

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