American Educations Research Association (AERA) Conference, New Orleans
Available online at: http://coen.boisestate.edu/ychyung/researchpaper.htm
This article summarizes a much greater research paper the author conducted around motivations, perceptions and satisfaction levels of adult learners around online learning, between 1989 and 1996. So a word of caution has to be kept in mind when considering the validity of the study, as it has now passed the 10-year historical timeline and much has happen in online learning ever since.
However, the study mentions a few very important models and ideas that can be useful not only for the planning or adapting of F2F programs into online learning environments, but presents a more solid basis from the learner's perspective, which has broader implications that go beyond the use of a specific available technological tool.
Highlights of the article are listed below:
- adult learners seem to be mainly of two kinds: goal and learning oriented. At first the categories seem very similar. Goal oriented learners learn to achieve personal goals - this seems a very broad understanding and direction of the learning process. Learning oriented learners, focus on specific knowledge and skills which will support their work-related or pleasure/personal needs.
- the choice for online instruction is mainly guided by need from geographically dispersed placements (learners leave away from source of instruction) and for time flexibility.
- reasons for adult learners dropout in distance education settings include: mismatch between personal interests and course structure/content; lack of confidence; absence of perception that there is anything left to learn.
- additionally: learners feel overwhelmed by advanced knowledge and overload of information and incompetence using online tools.
- perceptions play a key role in the drop-out rates of adult learners who learn online.
"learners lose their motivation to learn and quit, especially when they do not perceive instruction as interesting or relevant to their goal." (page 5)
- Using the Organizational Elements Model (means and ends correlations within an organization) the model supports a simple way of considering how a communications system can proceed.
- the idea is that means of the system include: inputs and processes and that these through organizational efforts contribute to the internal organization
- additionally the ends of system's attempts include products, outputs and outcomes, and these affect organizational results and have a societal impact, while both affecting the internal and external elements of an organization.
- Probably the most interesting feature of the article is a practical table that suggests designing interventions based on the Attractive/Relevant/Confidence/Satisfaction model (ARCS). The table in the article suggests considering a number of potential learner characteristics and using possible interventions - the model refers to which motivational factors the intervention can more specifically work on.
The practical elements of the study are definitely worth considering.