June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.179.1 - 13.179.19
An Exploratory Assessment of Distance and On-Ground Delivery of Business, Math and Engineering Technology Courses
This exploratory and interdisciplinary study illustrates students’ assessments on teamwork, creativity, communication, and critical thinking skills developed in multiple study areas across the campus of Tennessee Tech University located in Cookeville, Tennessee. Specifically, this illustration covers business (management and marketing), mathematics, and engineering technology courses that were delivered both traditionally on-ground and fully online distance over a period of six years. A total of 781 students were enrolled and 577 students responded the IDEATM survey. Total usable sample size was 549 with an overall response rate of 70.3 percent in 31 courses from 2000 to 2006. The paper initially introduces individual courses in each discipline with their course objectives and teaching methods, and later compares the aggregated mean scores for selected areas as well as distance and on-ground courses. Finally, authors highlight some important similarities and differences on distance and on-ground courses based on the findings of the study and their individual experiences. The study concludes with some insights for future research avenues.
Technological advances have increasingly offered numerous educational tools and techniques that can be utilized in both traditional and virtual classrooms. Ten years ago, while distance learning programs were offered by 80 percent of the schools1, now they are utilized by virtually all major universities in the United States. Indeed, the programs and courses offered fully online through Tennessee Tech University have increased almost 500 percent in the last five years2. Typical students of earlier generations of distance education were only adults seeking advanced education and training at home or on the job whose multiple responsibilities or physical circumstances prevented attendance at a traditional institution. Now anyone is potentially a distance learner.
Distance learning could be defined as an educational system in which the student is formally enrolled in a university but receives instruction at some remote site. It is not merely a geographic separation of learner and teacher. Rather, there are pedagogical concepts that lead to special patterns of learner and teacher behaviors. Traditionally, correspondence has been the primary delivery medium, but the delivery systems most common today are web-based utilizing webcams, Internet technologies, audio, and computer technologies.
There are various publications on the advantages and disadvantages of distance and face-to-face learning3, 4, 5, 6. Several key considerations emerge that contribute to the success of distance learning programs — student and faculty/administrative issues.
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