Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/61604
Type: Conference paper
Title: Criteria-Based Student Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Different Learning Environments
Author: Sendziuk, P.
Citation: The Education Research Group of Adelaide (ERGA) conference 2010: The Changing Face of Education, 24-25 September, 2010
Publisher: The University of Adelaide
Issue Date: 2010
Conference Name: ERGA Conference (5th : 2010 : Adelaide, Australia)
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Sendziuk, Paul
Abstract: Cuts, in real terms, to tertiary education funding in many countries over the past decade have necessitated a revolution in the way in which courses are taught. The need for cost-efficient course delivery has resulted in increasing class sizes, and is partially responsible for the move towards online methods of content delivery, particularly the use of ‘virtual’ classrooms and online threaded discussion groups. Teachers have needed to adapt to the new environment and especially the increased numbers of bodies in tutorials, moving away from tutor-centred (or top-down) teaching styles to embrace student-directed small group activities. This paper describes four of the most common tutorial formats adopted in the humanities—large (entire class) discussions, small group discussions, role-plays, and internet-based ‘virtual’ discussion groups—and examines student perceptions of their engagement with, and the effectiveness of, each of the formats based on a range of criteria. The information was collected at the end of a semester-length course in 2007 during which the students (n=49) experienced each of the tutorial styles on at least two occasions. Most of the students then completed non-compulsory and anonymous questionnaires in which they were asked to rank the tutorial formats against each other (from 1 to 4) according to eight different criteria; namely which tutorial format was the most enjoyable, which entailed the greatest potential for student embarrassment or intimidation, which offered the greatest opportunity for the student to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion, which offered the easiest means for the student to follow the discussion, which offered the greatest potential for social interaction, which offered the most motivation for the student to prepare and participate, which required the most amount of work, and which was most effective in facilitating learning. The responses of the students pointed to an overwhelming preference for small group activities over large (entire class) discussions, and indicated dissatisfaction with ‘virtual’ tutorials conducted as online threaded discussion groups, which were rated last for the majority of criteria (results that were confirmed by a second questionnaire-based survey that asked questions solely about the tutorials conducted online). This suggests that student enthusiasm for online tutorials as an adjunct to, or replacement for, face-to-face teaching and learning does not necessarily match the enthusiasm of their advocates. The responses also revealed that students valued the opportunity to role-play, and that such activities motivated students to prepare most thoroughly for the tutorial. This finding might interest tertiary educators who view such activities as ‘child’s play’, or those wishing to add an engaging element to online learning activities.
Rights: Copyright © 2010 The University of Adelaide
RMID: 0030001080
Description (link): http://www.adelaide.edu.au/erga/
Appears in Collections:History publications

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