A critical analysis of academic skill development opportunities for online distance learning students at a UK university

Winnard, Yvette (2016) A critical analysis of academic skill development opportunities for online distance learning students at a UK university. Masters thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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This mixed methods study focuses on the academic skill development opportunities available to online distance learning students at a UK university. Educators and researchers advocate contextualised teaching and learning strategies to meet individual student needs, yet most universities provide generic study skills support services. Furthermore, academic skill development should be embedded within course curricula to ensure it is contextualised and delivered at the point of need. This research study contributes to the body of knowledge and extends it by uniquely capturing the voice of online learners using fully online research methods. This study reveals online distance learning students’ preferences for academic skill development opportunities; something not available in the existing literature. A sequential mixed methods approach was employed utilising online methods of data collection. Quantitative data were collected via an online questionnaire using Survey Monkey in strand 1. In strand 2, qualitative data were generated via online, audio-visual, semi-structured interviews hosted using Adobe Connect. The strand 1 data revealed online distance learning students prefer academic skill development opportunities involving one to one interaction. Students also access internet resources in preference to university resources and they perceive librarian support to be unavailable. The strand 2 data confirmed students perceive benefit in accessing opportunities for ‘human’ interaction, whilst text-based information presents challenges on their time. Embedding of academic skill development opportunities within curricula was not explicit. Importantly, students were of the opinion the academic skill development opportunities had contributed to their academic and personal development. This study concludes university generic skill support services do not effectively meet the needs of online distance learning students. The findings indicate text-based resources should be replaced by more interactive opportunities. Students’ preferences for opportunities for one to one interaction may not be economically viable on a university scale, but embedding on a modular or course basis may be more feasible.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Keywords: academic skill development, online distance learning, embedding, mixed methods
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2018 11:19
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 19:00
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703775

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