Quest for Student Success: A Cross-disciplinary Exploration of the Learning and Development Needs of Online Students in a Regional University

Eacersall, Douglas ORCID: and Dowe, Amelia (2017) Quest for Student Success: A Cross-disciplinary Exploration of the Learning and Development Needs of Online Students in a Regional University. In: Association for Academic Language and Learning Conference (AALL 2017), 1 Nov - 3 Nov 2017, Geelong, Australia.

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There has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of the online environment across many higher education institutions. This means that identifying the language and learning development needs of online students and how they might be best engaged is a necessary step in enhancing student success and extending the teaching and learning opportunities for staff and students. It is also important that the provision of online support to online students is evidence based. This paper reports on the preliminary findings of a mixed-method research project that sought to identify across disciplines the language and learning development needs of online students within the context of a regional university.
Previous studies demonstrate that there are many factors affecting student online learning. For example, emotions, such as enjoyment, interest, boredom and frustration are important (Kahu, Stephens, Leach & Zepke, 2015). Feelings of connectedness with instructors and peers (Delahunty, Verenikina & Jones, 2014) and the relationship between peer-to-peer interaction and online student retention (Boyle, Kwon, Ross & Simpson, 2010) are also important factors. Other studies have demonstrated that the opportunity for interaction in learning activities (Kuo, Walker, Schroder & Belland, 2014) and the positive effects of interaction in online courses (Croxton, 2014; Barberà, Layne & Gunawardena, 2014) are significant. These studies have been influential in informing the findings discussed in this paper but their focus is mainly curriculum based rather than co-curricular initiatives.
Several co-curricular online resources aimed at developing academic skills have been evaluated and reported on in recent years (Mort, 2012; Nallaya & Kehrwald, 2013). These studies are instructive in communicating good practice in the field and providing an insight into their development. There are several areas, however, that these studies do not address. For example, there is limited investigation of students’ learning and development needs or means of addressing emotional engagement in the context of these particular institutions. Although each of the programs is thoroughly informed by evidence and current research, the needs of the student cohort have not been reported on in the development stages. Further, student-instructor interaction tends to have been neglected in favour of student-content interaction.
This paper begins to address these issues by reporting on the findings of a project that investigated the learning and development needs of online students from a co-curricular perspective whilst also taking into account significant online learning factors, such as emotional engagement and different types of student interaction. The paper will also discuss the ways in which these findings inform the development of online resources and effective engagement of online students within the context of learning support.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Academic Division - Library
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Academic Division - Library
Date Deposited: 31 May 2022 00:06
Last Modified: 31 May 2022 23:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: Technology Enhanced Learning; student experience; student success; Higher Degree by Research (HDR); Postgraduate Research
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1601 Learner and learning > 160102 Higher education

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