Psychology and Education major examines how social learners experience online instruction

Isabella Ilievski ’21 investigates multimedia content delivery for social dependent learners

April 30, 2021   /  

Majors: Psychology and education
I.S. Title: “Social dependent, independent learners and their online learning”
Mentor: Michelle Colvin, visiting assistant professor of psychology

Isabella Ilievski ’21
Isabella Ilievski ’21

Part of what drew Isabella Ilievski ’21 to The College of Wooster from Waterbury, Connecticut as a first-year student was “the emphasis on building personal relationships among my classmates and professors.” Being involved in many organizations on campus as well as finding her passions through her academic work made the College a “perfect fit.” With the transition to online learning during the pandemic, for her Independent Study, she took an interest in the types of interactions that influenced learning. Ilievski brought together her education and psychology majors to test most effective content delivery for social dependent learners in the age of online learning.

Because of the pandemic, I was wondering how to simulate social interaction in an online setting because I was experiencing the disadvantages in my own experience of transitioning to virtual learning as well as seeing elementary students struggle without the social interaction. This research has continued to excite me because it’s a newer field, is needed during this time and the future, and the research can be used to support learners and give resources to educators.”

—Isabella Ilievski ’21

Can you give a general synopsis of your I.S. and significant conclusions for those who may be outside your disciplines?

“My I.S. is about investigating online learning environments and how social dependent learners (students who rely on social interaction to learn) can be supported through content delivery. I created an experimental survey testing two different content delivery formats: text passage and video. I found that social dependent learners scored significantly higher on a content quiz when given the video instead of the text passage. This means that showing material through a video in an online learning environment may be more beneficial for students who prioritize social learning strategies.”

How does your research fit into what’s been done on this topic before and what is new and significant about your project? 

“While this field of online learning is newer, there has been research done on content delivery, multimedia, learning styles, and social learning. My research fits in by combining the previous theories on learning styles with social interaction and then testing their learning through multimedia content delivery. I haven’t found research that combines the social interaction learning styles with multimedia content delivery before.”

How did your time at Wooster prepare you for this research?   

“Many of my classes in the Psych department prepared me by assigning research proposals to teach us how to research and use academic language. Both my psychology and education courses have encouraged questioning, researching, and developing ideas and solutions to problems that we notice in the field or in readings.”

How has your faculty mentor supported you throughout your project?

“Dr. Colvin has been an incredible mentor during my I.S. research and I’m very grateful for her support. From start to finish, she has helped me organize my thoughts, prioritize my goals, and was always understanding and calming when I was stressed. I appreciated that she emphasized my own understanding of what I was doing and writing and never just told me to do it a certain way. When I was struggling to understand something or organize it, she would have discussions with me so we could talk through my thinking and come to a solution. Additionally, she expanded my thinking and encouraged me to dive deeper, making me a better writer. I was lucky to have her as my advisor during this experience.”

What is next for you after graduation?

“In the fall, I’m attending the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a master’s in learning design, innovation, and technology. This research experience has definitely inspired me, so much so, that I’m going to learn about it more in graduate school!”