Learning Diversity in Online Education The survey findings of two researchers in online education
Types of Learners
Independent Learner: has developed an interpretive approach to learning
Dependent Learner: has not yet discovered interpretive methods
Student Control of Learning According to a survey done by Yanyan Yong, Ph.D., and Anne Parrella, Ph.D., of students enrolled in a freshman-level western civilization course at a community college, 30 percent described an education that placed the student in control of his own learning as “the library,” “one-sided,” “chaotic,” and “horrible.” The inference is that at least some students need a structured atmosphere and clear instructor guidance.
“ Students expressed strong awareness of the existence of learning diversity and even suggested that learning is an individualized activity.”
- Yong and Parrella
Other Survey Results
50 percent indicated listening to the instructor as their learning preference.
Only 6 percent selected reading online as their preference.
62 percent indicated a preference for live presence or personality of instructor.
72 percent expected that the instructor play an authoritative role.
Interpreting This Data
The absence of the physical presence of an instructor may be a jarring experience for students new to online instruction.
Students seem to prefer the social dimension to be integrated into learning as much as possible.
Discussion boards are a very useful tool for improving social interaction among students and teacher.
What Students Want
49 percent wanted lecture notes and instructor outlines in an online course.
62 percent wanted descriptive course objectives.
46 wanted materials presented as questions/historical problems.
33 percent wanted the material presented as facts and explanations.
Only 20 percent wanted both of the above.
Guidance Needs Expressed by Students
Review for exams
33 percent of students indicated a need for repetition of concepts to be learned from their readings.
21 percent said the course outline was enough.
15 percent relied on question objectives.
64 percent wanted the instructor to be visible to them.
36 percent wanted weekly contact with the instructor.
31 percent wanted instructor contact as needed.
4 percent wanted the instructor to decide on the amount and frequency of contact.
Strongest Student Preferences
Direction and guidance
Learning materials presented for a discovery activity