JITE-Research Volume 11, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
Around two decades have passed since higher education institutions began incorporating the internet as an alternative studying environment, together with frontal class teaching and learning. This kind of environment still poses meaningful challenges for students and teachers that take an active part in E-learning courses. Today it is quite clear that taking part in online courses requires new technological, behavioral, and thinking skills, in order to best handle and even successfully finish the course. Although technological skills are a must for taking part in an online course, a majority of students participating in these kinds of courses have arrived thus far without suitable prior computer experience or background, internet working skills, and internet based studies skills. This research tests the effects of teaching and pedagogical elements in academic e-courses on the change of intellectual thinking dispositions according to the dispositional theory of Perkins, Jay and Tishman (1993). The study tested the changes that occurred in the thinking dispositions of 285 students from the Department of Information Science and the Department of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University as a result of studying in an e-learning environment. In the course of the study asynchronous and synchronous courses, which are transferred fully through the web (except for one frontal orientation meeting), were tested. The quantitative data was collected using three questionnaires in three phases. In the first phase was a 'pre-virtual course' questionnaire, which tested the seven thinking dispositions before taking an e-course. The second phase: at the end of each course a second questionnaire was distributed, which tested the seven thinking dispositions 'post virtual course'. The third questionnaire (post – part 2), also distributed at the end of the course, constituted the third phase and tested previous computer and internet knowledge and experience, further e-courses taken and the students' personal information. We found that in the ecourses there is an interactive system of relations between a number of elements that work together: the e-environment, study technologies, the teacher's activity and the teaching process and its elements. These components worked well together and brought on a change in the students' thinking dispositions in a functionally balanced and complete way. The study's results show that there is a significant statistical effect of studying in an e-environment on the changes of intellectual thinking dispositions in all seven thinking dispositions. This effect is evident in the pedagogical and technological elements of e-courses, in all seven thinking dispositions, in changing levels of positive power. The conclusions of the study show that studying in an e-environment online contributes to the change in thinking dispositions and, so promotes intellectual thinking and behavioral patterns.
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