June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Educational Research and Methods
Charles Sturt University makes its underpinning technical curriculum available to its students using an on-demand online system they call their Topic Tree. The tree is a directed acyclic graph where nodes represent topics to be learned, and edges represent the prerequisite relationships that exist between the topics. Branches on the topic tree represent concentrations in an area of knowledge, sub-branches (water quality, fluid mechanics, etc.) represent distinct subsets of knowledge - specialty. Delivery of the technical content is in three-hour modules, and students are free to choose the order in which they engage with these topics.
Previous work has identified that students engage with the on-demand curriculum much as they engage with on-demand entertainment platforms such as Netflix, completing long sequences of topics with short time periods between them – the traditional “binge” model of consumption.
This paper presents a more fine grained analysis of students’ pathways through the topic tree, focusing on the distance between successive topics completed by the students. Students’ progress is characterised in a three dimensional framework – forward distance, backward distance and time.
In general, pathways through the tree fall into one of four patterns: • Forward movement along a branch or sub-branch of the tree, either sequentially (distance = 1) or skipping over topics (distance > 1) • Revision of prior topics along a branch or sub-branch of the tree (backward distance of N) • Revision of the same topic on a branch or sub-branch (both distances = 0) • Switching to a different branch of the tree (backward distance to the junction of the branches combined with a forward distance along the new branch) These pathways are also coupled with the time elapsed between the two consecutive topics.
Different students engage with the topic tree using different combinations of these approaches. This paper will identify these different combinations, and show how these approaches correlate with success and progression throughout the course.
Morgan, J., & Lindsay, E., & Howlin, C., & Van den Bogaard, M. E. D. (2019, June), Pathways of Students' Progress through an On-demand Online Curriculum Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33161
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