ED ET 755 - Research Synthesis


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This is a research synthesis on the topic of learning strategies for students involved in distance education.

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ED ET 755 - Research Synthesis

  1. 1. Kayla SmithResearch SynthesisED ET 755, Summer I 2012June 19, 2012 Learning Strategies for Students involved in Distance EducationSummary/Conclusion:I selected a topic on learning strategies for students involved in distance education.Below is a thorough list of both scholarly articles as well as research studies that I havereviewed in order to become an expert in this field of distance education. As you see,these articles contain numerous strategies for students who are enrolled in onlineeducation and provide effective means for success and achievement. Both technologyand distance education continue to grow and progress. Though there are challenges anddifficulties that many students encounter with this type of learning, the development ofnew, innovative technological tools as well as the complex network of connections thatstudents are given (Internet) allow for success in an online environment. Distanceeducation has impacted the nation because of its convenience, flexibility of pace,location, and time, and opportunity to obtain higher education while working a job andraising a family. In conclusion, the research studies conducted show that all of thesestrategies assist students with several important components, including, motivation,metacognition, and resource management skills. A student should aim to develop theaforementioned skills in order to promote meaningful learning, engage with otherstudents, the instructor, and the content, and become involved through a deeperapproach that allows students to expand their knowledge through personal meaning,prior experience, and applicable real-life examples.Research Articles:Learning StrategiesFilcher, C., & Miller, G. (2000). Learning Strategies for Distance Education Students.Journal of Agricultural Education, 41 (1), 60-68.This article identifies several learning strategies to assist students when participating indistance education courses. These strategies are separated into three categories:cognitive, metacognitive, and resource management. Some of the strategies providedare to promote meaningful learning and to engage students in the material that they arelearning about in the course, such as, memorizing information, underlining,highlighting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the text as well as note taking and selectingthe main idea through outlines, networks, and diagrams. The article states that onlycertain strategies have been assessed in distance education programs and that no
  2. 2. considerable differences have been observed in students when both achievement levelsand learning strategies have been compared.Willis, B. (1995). Strategies for Learning at a Distance. Distance Education at a Glance,Guide 8.This article addresses many issues that students must overcome when involved indistance education courses. It allows others to see an “outside view” of the challengesstudents encounter while attempting to manage everyday life, including a family, job,and school related activities and assignments. The author presents two approaches todistance education in this article: the surface approach and deep approach. One featuresmemorization while the other focuses on relating ideas to previous knowledge andexperiences in order for learning to occur. As stated in the article, there are numerousadversities for students enrolled in distance education courses, but it is important toremember these points for success: Responsibility, Motivation, Learning GoalsAwareness, Self-Esteem, Group Interaction, Reflection, and Personal Examples.Morgan, C., Dingsdag, D., and Saenger, H. (1998). Learning Strategies for DistanceLearners: Do they help? Teaching and Learning Centre, 1-22.This article introduces a new learning strategy employed at Southern Cross University.As discussed in the article, this strategy implements the theoretical foundation ofConstructivism where students learn through a hands-on inquiry approach withemphasis on prior meaning and personal experiences. The professors encouragestudents to develop several skills, including higher-order thinking and reasoning skills,research skills, and written communication skills, to promote a deeper understanding ofthe acquired knowledge in the course. The strategy, called the Evaluative LearningProcess, allows students to divide tasks into smaller portions in order to achievesuccess. They are required to use this procedure when completing the assignments andactivities for each course.Wetzel, D. (2008). Online Education Learning Strategies for Adults. ContinuingEducation: Suite 101, 1.This article displays several ways to be successful when enrolled in a distance educationcourse. A student that decides to take classes or obtain a degree through an onlineenvironment must be self-motivated and disciplined in order to reach his/her learninggoals. The article relates individual success to the amount of time and effort that aperson allows for the requirements in the course. Some strategies that the authormentions for high levels of achievement include: to focus on the BIG picture and to alsomake connections with other classmates‟ as well as the information being taught andlearned. Essentially, it is important for students involved in distance education
  3. 3. programs to manage time wisely, be proactive, and remain aware of courseexpectations.Guo, S. (2011). Exploring What and How Learning Strategies are used in DistanceEducation to Improve Students’ Capabilities of Self-Learning. World Academy ofScience, Engineering and Technology, 77, 592-596.This article addresses the need for a learning strategy in distance education. Motivation,student responsibility, and the use of different strategies all contribute to learnersuccess and achievement. However, there are also several factors (e.g. job, family) thataffect individuals and present challenges in an online environment. The articleidentifies numerous strategies, including Time Management, Attention Focus andEnvironment Management, Interaction, Support, Reflection, and ResourceManagement, which “provide the most promising tools to enhance adult students‟success in distance education” (592).Jain, L. (2005). Incorporating Deep Learning Strategies into Distance EducationCourses. 1-5.This article discusses many of the deep learning strategies associated with distanceeducation. As the author states, it is important for each strategy to “lead to high levelsof retention” (1). The student should also be able to apply the information learned toother areas of life. The article mentions three different types of online discussions thatfacilitate critical analysis, such as, Flexible Peer Discussion, Structured TopicDiscussion, and Collaborative Task Discussion. Each method of discussion createsopportunities for students to interact with peers about the presented material whichultimately promotes more meaningful and deeper learning. The article also notes thatthese strategies result in higher student retention levels which prove that utilizing deeplearning strategies will be more productive and valuable for the learner. The “JigsawLearning Technique” is the last strategy mentioned in this article. It allows the studentto assume a leadership position and become the instructor as he/she teaches his/herclassmates‟ about an assigned topic. In my opinion, this technique would be veryeffective and allow students to gain a profound understanding of certain material,information, or a given subject area.King, J., Sattler-Weber, S., and King, K. (2005). Instructional Strategies for DistanceEducation: Research Based Examples. Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning,18, 1-5.This article evaluated fourteen instructional strategies that must be incorporated intodistance education programs. These strategies were adapted from face-to-face on-campus courses, and therefore, used to not only promote meaningful learning, but toalso improve learning situations and conditions in the online world. Some of the
  4. 4. strategies provided include: Process and Teaching Strategies, Reminders, MnemonicDevices, Transfer of Learning, Teamwork, Student Readiness/InstructionalExpectations, Effective Evaluation and Remediation, as well as several others(referenced in the article). Ultimately, the article reminds students that “good teachingis good teaching and that online teachers exhibit the ability to use instructionalstrategies identified as successful in face-to-face teaching as well” (4).Valle, R., and Duffy, T. (2005). Online Learning: Learner Characteristics and TheirApproaches to Managing Learning. 1-39.This article addresses different learning strategies involved in distance educationcourses. The authors identify three approaches: Mastery-oriented, Task focused, andMinimalist in effort. The mastery-oriented approach deals with the self-regulatedlearner who is motivated and driven from within, the task focused approach relates tothe learner who simply desires to “get it finished” in a quick and accurate manner, andthe minimalist in effort approach refers to the person who wastes time and isconsidered a procrastinator. Although there are many challenges presented with onlineeducation, students were successful with these strategies because of the “high quality,self-paced learning experiences” (2). Students also displayed a sense of satisfaction withthe courses because of the freedom, flexibility, and ability to complete assignments fromany location at any time. This refers to the Guided Problem Solving Approach whichallows students to fulfill specified duties at a pace of their own (e.g. WebQuest).Ultimately, “it is not just devoting time to a course. We know that what students „do‟ ordo not do is critical to their learning. We expect them to use all or most of the courseresources, to overview the course, and to take learning seriously” (4).Shirley, R. Seven Success Strategies for Distance Learners. 1.This article mentions seven success strategies for students enrolled in distanceeducation courses. The first strategy is to set goals and stay focused on achieving thosegoals. The second strategy is to establish a regular schedule for both studying andlearning the materials. This requires students to create a calendar and plan a certainamount of time for assignments, projects, and specified readings. Students should alsodevelop a time and place to complete the tasks for the course. The third strategy is forstudents to effectively communicate with others in regard to the coursework that theyare being asked to complete. The fourth strategy is to interact with students in the classand join a study group. Students should explore the information that they areresearching as much as possible and also inquire additional information fromprofessionals in that particular field. The fifth strategy is for students to identify theirlearning styles and benefit from that information by becoming an active participant inthe educational process. The sixth strategy is to celebrate successes upon finishingassignments and projects. This allows students to allocate time to participate inactivities of leisure and choice. The seventh and final strategy is to ask questions in time
  5. 5. of need or when experiencing difficulties. This will make your life less complicated ifyou are aware of the course expectations.Wilson, J. (1997). Self-Regulated Learners and Distance Education Theory.Educational Communications and Technology, 1.This article elaborates on the characteristics of self-regulated learners who participate indistance education courses. This approach uses the constructivist theory which allowsstudents to create meaning through prior experiences and personal examples. Thistheory also requires students to become active participants that are involved andresponsible for their learning in the course. The article defines self-regulated learning,identifies six dimensions of learning, incorporates how to teach it, and includes fiveprinciples for integrating the constructivist approach into class design. A self-regulatedlearner “approaches education tasks with confidence, diligence, and resourcefulness.They are aware of when they do or do not know something. They seek out informationwhen needed and follow the necessary steps to master it” (1). This type of learner mustbe inner-driven and extremely motivated to continuously engage in the informationwith the instructor and his/her classmates. As discussed in the article, the sixdimensions of self-regulated learning are epistemological beliefs, motivation,metacognition, learning strategies, contextual sensitivity, and environmental control.Telg, R. (2009). Instructional Methods for Distance Education. Institute of Food andAgricultural Services, 1-9.This article explores various instructional methods employed by different distanceeducation programs. There are many models for this type of learning and each oneshould include these elements: Humanizing (atmosphere), Participation (interactionand collaboration), Message Style (instructor provides information to the learner in away that is understood and remembered), and Feedback (comments, reinforcement,and encouragement on tasks completed in the course). The article also discusses theADDIE model which identifies the key components to developing a successful onlinecourse. For example, the instructional designer should analyze both the instructionaland learner needs, develop and design the content, teaching methods and strategies,media delivery, and implement means for evaluation and assessment. Lastly, the articleexplores numerous ways for students to interact (learner-learner, learner-instructor, andlearner-content) in an online environment using collaborative tools, such as, videoconferences, computer mediated communication, printed material, and auditoryinformation. Teachers may also enhance online instruction by applying several of thestrategies discussed in this article.Milheim, W. (2001). Faculty and Administrative Strategies for the EffectiveImplementation of Distance Education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(5), 535-542.
  6. 6. This article examines multiple strategies to assist instructors in the implementation ofdistance education courses. Technology continues to develop and expand in ways that“can be utilized for the presentation of educational materials in a variety ofenvironments” (1). The reason for the sudden demand from students for these types ofcourses is that they can learn at their own pace at any place and time. As the articlementions, the online world continues to advance, and as a result, students are given theopportunity to explore innumerable amounts of new, innovative technologies whichprovides them with a more quality, distance education. The article also gives anoverview of the characteristics of an online learner, and therefore states that he/sheshould be an actively involved in the educational process. The author discusses theadvantages and disadvantages associated with online learning and emphasizes thatinstitutional staff should be trained in order to implement effective distance educationcourses.Ally, M., and Fahy, P. (2005). Using Students’ Learning Styles to Provide Support inDistance Education. Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning, 18, 1-5.This article discusses two different learning style inventories and their impact ondistance education. The first learning style inventory is called the Kolb LSI where“learners perceive, process, and absorb the information around them” (1). The secondlearning style inventory is labeled the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which “uses a scalefor measuring extroversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinkingversus feeling, and judging versus perception” (1). Instructors who teach in distanceeducation should employ a variety of strategies to support and enhance the onlineenvironment for students. This article summarizes four categories of online learners:Concrete (actively involved with the content and their peers), Reflective Observation(examines the information before becoming involved), Abstract (enjoys working withthings and ideas through a process of inquiry and discovery), and ActiveExperimentation (learns by doing and interacting with others). In this article, theauthors conducted a study and allowed two groups to participate in one of the twolearning style inventories. They utilized several strategies, including computerconferences, e-mail, and telephone communication.Alford, P., and Lawson, A. (2003). Distance Education: Skills for Being a SuccessfulOnline Learner. Information Technology Services, 1-21.This article identifies several methods of success for students in distance education. Astudent should handle certain issues in an online course in an efficient manner, such as,time, stress, responsibility, goal-setting, accountability, and self-directed learning (toname a few). All of the skills and strategies mentioned in this article allow students tobecome actively involved in their education through participation and engagementwith the content and also with their peers.
  7. 7. Motivational StrategiesFendel, B. (2003). Instructor Strategies for Motivating Students in Distance Education.1-7.This article identifies several strategies for motivating students in distance educationcourses. As mentioned in the article, a student will be successful based upon theirmotivation and “how strong they desire to learn the skills and knowledge required toreach their learning goals” (1). Motivation is classified into two categories, intrinsic andextrinsic. Intrinsic motivation “refers to the student‟s desire to learn for their ownpersonal growth” whereas extrinsic “refers to a student‟s desire to learn for an externalreason” (2). Both of these types of motivation contribute to student effort andachievement. Some of the motivational strategies mentioned in this article include thefollowing: the learning environment should support interaction and feedback from boththe students in the class and the instructor, the instructor should define clearexpectations so that students are aware of the objectives of the course, and lastly thetechnological tools should be appropriate and useful for the delivery of the coursecontent.Radovan, M. (2011). The Relation Between Distance Students’ Motivation, Their UseOf Learning Strategies, and Academic Success. The Turkish Online Journal ofEducational Technology, 10 (1), 216-222.This article summarizes the characteristics of a self-regulated learner. It also explainshow many of these factors relating to metacognition and motivation are important instudent success when completing a distance education course. The article provides adetailed account of a study conducted by several researchers in the field of EducationalTechnology. They examined the effects of motivation when combined with a variety ofeffective learning strategies. As stated in the article, “Studies showed that students whowere trained to use learning strategies displayed substantial improvement in theiracademic performance” (216). Ultimately, the most useful strategies for studentsincluded: Goal-setting, Task value, Self-efficacy, and Effort regulation – all of whichconfirmed better academic achievement and success when applied to distanceeducation courses.Evaluation StrategiesLockee, B., Moore, M., and Burton, J. (2002). Success: Evaluation Strategies forDistance Education. Educause Quarterly, 20-26.This article discusses a variety of evaluation strategies to implement in distanceeducation courses. Both types of evaluation are examined: formative (informs
  8. 8. instruction) and summative (review of instruction after completion). The article dividesformative evaluation into six stages, including Design Reviews, Expert Reviews, One-on-One Reviews, Small Group Reviews, Field Trials, and On-going Reviews. Eachphase allocates a certain amount of time to skilled individuals for an extensive review ofcourse design and development. Summative evaluation is also organized into threecategories, involving Input, Outcomes, and Implementation. All three of these areas areimportant in summative evaluation, and therefore, when gathering data to ensure thesuccess of the course.Research Articles (URLs):1. http://pubs.aged.tamu.edu/jae/pdf/vol41/41-01-60.pdf2. http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/eo/dist8.html3. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0213.pdf4. http://epubs.scu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1148&context=tlc_pubs5. http://itec.sfsu.edu/wp/860wp/F06_860_fendel_motivating_students.pdf6. http://www.tojet.net/articles/v10i1/10122.pdf7. http://suite101.com/article/online-education-learning-strategies-for-adults-a626198. http://www.waset.org/journals/waset/v77/v77-109.pdf9. http://itec.sfsu.edu/wp/860wp/F05_860_jain.pdf10. http://www.uwex.edu/disted/conference/Resource_library/proceedings/02_35.pdf11. http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~uk/otpd/participants/papers/duffy_profile_paper.pdf12. http://www.worldwidelearn.com/education-articles/distance-learning-success.htm13. http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/802papers/wilson/wilson.html14. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc02615. http://www.umsl.edu/technology/frc/pdfs/strategies_for_effective_integration.pdf16. http://www.uwex.edu/disted/conference/Resource_library/proceedings/02_1.pdf17. http://www.hper.indiana.edu/de/pdf/de_student_primer.pdfI only reviewed 17 articles because the information in several of the articles was extremelysimilar. Some of the learning strategies were discussed in numerous articles which becametedious and I didn‟t want to write a review on the same information.