Tag Archives: self-paced

Shorter Time between Assignments for Success in Self-Paced Courses

As a follow-up to a study published earlier in 2016, I have another research article examining student behavior in self-paced courses…

See the out of sequence article for some background and previous work…

Do an Online Assignment Out of Sequence to Be More Successful

In this latest article, I looked at three measures of student delay behavior (is it delay or procrastination? That’s a whole field of study too!): 

  • the days between registration date and first date of assignment submission (Days to Start)
  • the average days between assignment submissions (Days between Assignments)
  • total days between registration and completion (Days to Complete)

Of these three, the average length of time between assignment submissions was found to be most useful to predict final letter grade and withdrawal. Students with shorter amounts of time between assignments were more likely to complete successfully.

Check out the full article online in the Distance Education journal.

While one could argue that an instructor is needed to keep students’ on pace, some of the students in this study did very well on keeping a regular pace. That self-regulation skill is critical for life, don’t you think? Good to learn and practice.

What do you think?

Do you think that learning analytics such as this, watching student behavior in an online course, is useful for predicting completion? useful for planning interventions for students not doing so well? Is it intrusive or useful? Should we try to find a threshold for success? If we did, what interventions might be appropriate? What questions does this result raise in your mind? Please comment.

Do an Online Assignment Out of Sequence to Be More Successful

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?

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by xerezh
Flickr Creative Commons Photo by xerezh

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.