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The purpose of this study is to reveal the impact of e-learning environments supported with reflective thinking activities on students’ academic success, social presence perception and on their motivation. Experimental design with pretest-posttest control group was used in the study. Three different learning environment were compared within the scope of the study. Students in Study Group I completed the experimental process using the podcasts supported with reflective thinking activities whilst students in Study Group II completed the process using podcasts which were not supported with reflective thinking activities and students in Study Group III completed the experimental process using web-based videos. The study was carried out for 6 weeks on 103 students studying in a distance education programme of a university. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques were used; and the data was collected using achievement test, social presence perception scale, Instructional Materials Motivation Survey and student opinion identification form. The results of the study revealed that use of podcasts supported with reflective activities were more efficient in ensuring post-test success and motivation, compared to others. In terms of social presence perception, on the other hand, there was no significant difference between study groups. Based on the results of qualitative data analysis, recommendations were made on how to use reflective thinking activities in e-learning environment designs and on how to utilize podcast technology.
4. Result and discussion
The findings of the first research question of the study revealed that post-test success scores of the students in Study Group I were higher compared to the students in Study Group II. In addition, it was seen that the post-test success scores of Study Group II were not different from Study Group III. These findings of the study indicate that using video or podcast as the interaction medium does not create a difference on post-test success yet the existence of reflective thinking activities create a significant difference on post-test success although the effect sizes for this difference was relatively small (Cohen, 1988). Although the findings on success variable have similarities to the findings in other studies in the literature, it has certain differences as well. For example, O’Bannon, Lubke, Beard, and Britt (2011) compared podcast instruction with those who received lecture instruction. The result of their study revealed that there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of success. In our study, no statistically significant difference was found between the success scores of podcast and video groups. However, it was found that podcasts supported with reflective activities created a statistically significant difference on success. In Boster et al.'s (2007) study, on the other hand, he reported that the students who used video streaming scored significantly higher than students who did not use them. Also, Traphagan, Kusera, Kishi (2010) suggest that webcasts could have positive effects on students' learning experiences and performance, even if class attendance does decline. These results indicate that it is the content design, rather than the access/environment, that is more important. Different from the studies given above, in this study, the podcast and video environment were compared to find out the impact of accessibility and it was seen that there was no statistically significant difference between the two. Similarly, Hill and Nelson (2011) emphasized that the key to improving the student learning experience appears to lie not in adopting new pedagogy, but in reflexively developing the existing pedagogic strategies employed by both teachers and learners.