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Volume 38, Issue 1, 2016
Author Johnson Ayodele OpateyeSource: Progressio 38, pp 1 –13 (2016)More Less
This paper examines the level of difficulty lecturers experience in constructing test items for various types of tests based on gender and institutional mode of delivery in an Open and Distance Learning higher education context. Descriptive cross-sectional survey research was adopted as the research paradigm, using lecturers from one single mode and one dual mode ODL institution in South West Nigeria as the study population. Stratified simple random sampling techniques were used to select 240 lecturers as the sample. Three research questions and two hypotheses guided the study’s investigation. A questionnaire with a reliability coefficient of 0.78 using Cronbach’s alpha value was used as the research instrument. Frequency, percentages, t-test statistics and charts were utilised to analyse the data. The results showed that ODL lecturers exhibited moderate levels of difficulty in test item construction. Female ODL lecturers found case study, multiple choice, matching, essay, and completion items more difficult to generate than their male counterparts did. There was a significant difference in the difficulty male and female ODL lecturers experienced in constructing test items. Significant differences were also found in the difficulty experienced by single and dual mode ODL lecturers in construct test items. The findings of the study have implications for the capacity development of lecturers, ODL institution management, and test experts in order to improve lecturers’ capacities in test items construction.
A customised framework for effective podcast integration in a South African higher education environmentSource: Progressio 38, pp 14 –32 (2016)More Less
Numerous studies have explored the potential of podcast integration in teaching and learning environments. This paper first presents and organises perspectives from literature in a conceptual framework for the effective integration of podcasting in higher education. An empirical study is then discussed in which the guidelines presented in the framework were evaluated for applicability in a selected course at a South African University of Technology. Since the results of the study revealed a number of aspects not accounted for in the conceptual framework, the framework was customised to make it more applicable for the particular higher education environment. The customised framework identifies four principles and a series of related guidelines for the effective integration of podcasts in a South African higher education teaching and learning environment. This framework can become a valuable resource for effective podcast integration in similar environments.
An inductively derived research framework for student satisfaction in ODL : the Higher Education environmentSource: Progressio 38, pp 33 –57 (2016)More Less
Student satisfaction, as a key psychological-affective outcome of tertiary education, is a direct measure of the success of Open Distance Learning (ODL). It is therefore vital for ODL Higher Education Institutions to assess and improve student satisfaction constantly. Existing theories on student satisfaction are mostly derived from deductive research, i.e. from research that considers the existing body of knowledge, followed by an investigation of a specific aspect or component, in order to reach a specific conclusion. We, however, maintain the inductive stance that a research framework for student satisfaction in ODL should be derived from students themselves. Accordingly, we purposively collected qualitative data from N=34 South African postgraduate ODL students, representative of various cultural language groups, with regard to student satisfaction. Supported by Atlas.ti, we composed an integrated dataset comprised of students’ responses to two focus-group interviews, as well as students’ written narratives in response to qualitative questions. Through meticulous qualitative data-analysis, we detected data categories, sub-categories, patterns and regularities in the integrated dataset. Theories and findings from the existing corpus of knowledge pertaining to student satisfaction in ODL illuminated our qualitative findings. This paper reports on the knowledge we gained from our participants pertaining to their student satisfaction with the Higher Education (HE) environment, the first of three main research components of an inductively derived research framework for student satisfaction in ODL.
Source: Progressio 38, pp 58 –73 (2016)More Less
It is assumed that open and distance learning institutions develop study materials that adequately engage learners with quality content to assist their content mastery. However, distance learners continue to underperform, which raises the concern that high drop-out and failure rates may be ascribed to the study materials. This mixed-methods case study examined instructional material developed for secondary school learners studying via the open and distance learning mode. The study was informed by Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory to evaluate the process of designing and developing instructional materials while Gorsky, Caspi and Trumper’s Theory of Instructional Dialogue was used to map interaction with and within the selected study materials. A self-designed evaluation rubric included language-related criteria to gauge the accessibility of content. A questionnaire survey was undertaken with purposively identified participants: five material developers, 176 learners, and six tutors. Six semi-structured group interviews and twenty individual face-to-face interviews were conducted. Open coding and SPSS reports were used for qualitative and quantitative data analysis, respectively. Findings related to non-alignment of materials with learner profile, and the national syllabus, while inadequate proficiency in the language of instruction remained problematic. The outcomes of this study highlight the importance of well-trained material developers and focused ODL policies for quality assuring effective content design and development to accommodate diverse learners with limited English proficiency.
Enhancing student performance in first year chemistry through web-based learning in an open distance university contextSource: Progressio 38, pp 74 –86 (2016)More Less
This paper reports the results of a study to assess the impact of MasteringChemistry® on student performance in chemistry. The proprietary MasteringChemistry® is a web-based tutoring application and assessment system currently used in first year chemistry modules at the University of South Africa (Unisa). This web-based programme provides supplementary work, giving students practice with instructor-assigned problems. The system is able to coach students with feedback specific to their needs and with simpler problems upon request. The application also provides the individual student with immediate and specific feedback on incorrect or partially incorrect answers. There is great potential for web-based learning in an open distance-learning environment. In particular, in subjects such as chemistry where problem-solving strategies are intrinsic to the learning process, the internet could be an effective medium for teaching and learning. The rationale for this study was to explore new teaching strategies to increase the pass rate in chemistry. A profile of the student demographic, with data gathered from registration records, is presented. Data collection on student assessment occurred through the instructor diagnostic tools in the MasteringChemistry® application or with the assistance of the Unisa Examination Administration. Here we present preliminary results that indicate that most students who regularly accessed the material achieved better examination results than those who did not. This pilot study has led to improved and innovative formative assessment practices by the academic staff in the Chemistry Department at Unisa. It further formed an interesting and challenging learning experience for staff investigating web-based approaches directed at improvement of their assessment activities.