Research Spotlight: Larisa Olesova

Q & A with Larisa Olesova, Ph. D., Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

What research are you currently working on?

I am working on the effectiveness of a case-based discussions strategy to increase interaction among students. I am also collecting data from various online discussions where different general, role-based, inquiry-based, and debate instructional strategies are used to examine their effectiveness to increase interaction among students. I am studying the levels of students’ interactions by applying social network analysis to understand how to better design online students’ cognitive engagement. In addition, I am currently conducting research on examining engineering students’ cognitive skills in active learning courses using the Community of Inquiry (COI) theoretical framework.

What is the broader impact of your research?

My research has practical implications to help online instructors and instructional designers create effective online discussions to help students learn. For example, findings on the effectiveness of instructional strategies such as the question prompts structure, online discussion formats, or scripted role assignments can be practically used to facilitate engagement and interaction in asynchronous online discussions. I believe my research helps practitioners, educators, and researchers promote students’ cognitive learning in asynchronous online instruction.

What other research topics are you interested in?

I am also interested in collaborative learning and shared metacognition in inquiry-based instruction, and in the effectiveness of instructional feedback for non-native speakers of English. I am currently engaged in work in both of these areas, building on my prior work that examined the effectiveness of embedded asynchronous audio feedback on non-native English-speaking students’ higher-order learning during asynchronous online courses provided in English. The next phase of my audio feedback research will entail a further examination of the possible differences between distance and traditional students who are native and non-native English speakers. I also intend to examine more in-depth techniques for scaffolding using audio feedback and the impact of audio feedback on students at low levels of language proficiency in asynchronous online environments.