Observational Studies of the Learning Behaviour of Distance Education Students using an Asynchronous, Remote, Recording and Replay Tool

Logan, Kit (2005). Observational Studies of the Learning Behaviour of Distance Education Students using an Asynchronous, Remote, Recording and Replay Tool. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f61c

Abstract

This thesis gives details of a series of studies that were designed to investigate how distance education students use courseware in their learning and how time, comfort and learning styles, should be taken into account when designing distance education courses. The online behaviour of groups of distance education students, who volunteered to take part, were observed using an asynchronous, remote recording and replay tool (AESOP) as they completed online practical exercises as part of the Open University course M206 Computing: An Object Oriented Approach. Web based questionnaires were used to determine data not obtainable from the recording software, including students’ levels of comfort with computing tasks and learning styles as measured by two well known questionnaires and another developed for the study.

The profile of the times at which students study suggests the times at which they study are constrained by their personal circumstances. Time of day was not found to be a factor that affected academic performance or online behaviour. Students’ self expressed levels of comfort with computing tasks were found to be significantly related to academic performance. Significant relationships were also noted between students’ levels of preferences for the Activist and Dependent learning styles and academic performance. The Theorist, Collaborative and Visual styles were also found to be significantly related to the time students took to complete online practical work. A series of fine grained analyses looking at students' workspace arrangement, use of the notes page and sequence in which they used the course material, all raise further issues pertinent to the research and improvement in computer based instructional materials and distance education.

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