A case study of flexible delivery: observations on student choice, approaches to learning and performance

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Learning for an Unknown Future Vol. 26

July, 2003, 692 pages
Published by
Helen Mathews and Rod McKay
ISBN
0 90 8557 55 8
Abstract 

This paper reports on a study of first year students in a flexible learning environment. A total of 110 full-time students were enrolled in one of three allied health courses in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney. They were studying an introductory biomedical sciences unit of study that was common to all three programmes. This unit of study had been successfully presented in previous years in both an on-campus, lecture-based mode and an off-campus, resource-based mode. The students were provided with the opportunity to select from a variety of learning methodologies: a full series of lectures (on-campus mode), an independent learning manual (off-campus mode), and ancillary material in the form of a CD ROM and a specially produced website to accompany the textbook. In an introductory session the students were informed about the learning methodologies available and were told that they could use any or all of them. The use of the lecture timetable as a self-pacing tool was stressed. Student exam performance was very poor compared to that of previous years. Both mid-semester and end-of-semester exam performances were significantly lower, and the mean total mark had dropped by more than 10 percent compared with previous years. Attendance at lectures was low. Student responses in a questionnaire and their comments in focus group sessions indicated that many of them were ill- prepared for making choices and did not have the necessary self-regulation skills for a flexible learning environment.

Keywords: flexible learning; approaches to learning; self-regulation

A case study of flexible delivery: observations on student choice, approaches to learning and performance

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Lee, G., Weerakoon, P. & Lingard, J.