Posted by: MandyS | June 27, 2013

The Richardson turnabout?

Block 2, Week 12, Activity 4: Richardson (2009)

So Price et al, including Richardson, say, in 2007,  that ‘the students receiving online tuition reported poorer experiences than those receiving face-to-face tuition’. Now Richardson in 2009 says that there is ‘no significant difference between students who receive face-to-face tuition and those receiving on-line tuition in either perception of academic quality or in approaches to study’.

In two years, there is essentially a turnabout. So what has changed? The students? the course? the tutors? I think the conclusion has to be that the research very much depends on the circumstances that exist at the time; what works for one module and set of students might not necessarily work for another. On that basis, in answer to the first question:

Bearing in mind what I said earlier about the role of rhetoric in reports of educational research, do you find my conclusion – that institutions can feel confident about exploring the use of online forms of tutorial support – a convincing one?

I would have to go with a ‘try it and see’ approach. Such differing results do not instil confidence but this is not to say that module teams shouldn’t explore the use of online forums for tutorial support. In some respects, the researchers would make good lawyers; persuasion towards a particular point of view backed by evidence works every time! The role of the judge (H800 cohort, module teams) is to weigh up the evidence and reach ones own conclusion.

How do the accounts given in these two papers fit with your own experience of online tutorial support in H800?

My own experience actually fits very nicely with both papers. It very much depends on the student. Some much prefer the face-to-face contact with the tutor and a few have dabbled with the forum and Elluminate. My own view is that this is simply because, although the module is delivered partly online, the students are not forced to engage with the online side of the delivery; they can quite happily refuse to stick their heads above their manuals and still do well.


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