When Griggs University moved to Andrews University, I joined the team supporting online education at Andrews University. We started moving the Griggs University self-paced online courses from Desire2Learn to Andrews University’s Moodle. In the process, it seemed like it would be a good idea to restrict all the content so that students had to complete the previous lesson before they could go on to the next lesson.
At the same time, I was just getting started with my research agenda. It seemed like a good plan to get data before we implemented this plan, and then analyze the data afterwards.
Out of Sequence Success
However, when I analyzed the “before data”, I found that students who did at least one assignment out of sequence were more likely to complete! It was such a surprising result.
But think about it. If you are working away, and you are stuck, what do you do? Do you stop entirely, or do you do something else and come back to it?
Maybe taking a detour once in a while isn’t a bad thing. And maybe as instructional designers we shouldn’t be so obsessive about controlling the learning path of our students. Maybe designing for learner choice would increase the success of our students.
My research article is published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning: The Relationship between Successful Completion and Sequential Movement in Self-Paced Distance Courses. Take a look.
What do you think?
Have you noticed students doing assignments out of sequence? Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think students in a face to face class work on their assignments for the semester always in sequence? Do you think there might be a threshold where too many assignments out of sequence is a problem? What questions does this result raise in your mind? Please comment.