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Who (or what) can I turn to? Digital Instructional Technology and Student Success

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In many universities, students in large lecture-based courses have access to an array of peer and technological resources. Each student is simultaneously a potential social resource to others, a potential participant in peer interactions and a potential user of technological resources designed to support their learning. To date, peer and technological resources have been studied in isolation, but research and theory suggest the social ties that structure peer interactions may also influence students’ use of learning technologies. This study treats students’ resources use as interdependent behaviors, examining their interrelationships in three sections of a large introductory lecture. An apparent feedback process is observed between changes in the structure of the network, students’ engagement in academic centered peer interaction and their use of a practice problem application for exam review. An inverse relationship exists between social engagement and technology use, such that students with high levels of social engagement are unlikely to adopt and use the study prep technology. The converse is also true. Instructors might consider integrating activities into the class that expose students to a range of potential study strategies early on, which could foster network participation and technology adoption and use.

Michael BrownMichael Brown is a doctoral candidate in the Center for the Study of Higher and Post-Secondary Education in the School of Education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In his research, Michael bridges the literature on teaching and learning and network theory to understand students’ engagement in their coursework and its potential impact on academic outcomes. His dissertation project incorporates learning analytics data about student behavior into models of network formation in undergraduate courses.

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