Investigating relationships between educational technology use and other instructional elements using "big data" in higher education
The use of educational technology in higher education has been growing over the past few years. The focus of this research study is to understand the relationships between college students’ reactions to instruction and those courses that use educational technology, together with other important instructional elements, to facilitate learning. The research took place at a small liberal arts university in the Midwestern United States between August 2012 and December 2014. The research uses Student Ratings of Instruction and Courses from the IDEA Center, otherwise known as student evaluations of teaching. A total of 34,480 survey responses were analyzed for the study. The intent is to draw implications from this analysis for further faculty development. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were conducted, including but not limited to Goodman-Kruskal’s gamma correlation coefficient. Correlations were calculated between the use of educational technology and other instructional elements so as to facilitate learning, including teaching methods, progress on learning objectives, and global elements then stratified by class size and repeated the correlation calculations.
The relationships stressed in this study occur between educational technology use and various instructional elements. They are important for instructors concerned about using technology in their classes. The positive correlation between the use of educational technology and the many variables analyzed in this study demonstrate that the increase of use of educational technology corresponds to an increase in effective teaching methods and higher scores on the overall quality of the instructors and the courses offered. These results show areas of both strength and weakness. Such analyses can lead to opportunities for offering targeted faculty development by teaching and learning centers in many universities and colleges.