PPIG 2001 - 13th Annual Workshop
Observations of student working practices in an online distance education learning environment in relation to time
Kit Logan, Pete Thomas
Abstract: AESOP is An Electronic Student Observatory Project consisting of a set of tools written in Smalltalk allowing student’s activities and progress through an on-line distance education course to be remotely recorded, replayed and analysed. Recordings of a specific, short-structured chapter of practical sessions estimated to take a total of 4 hours, were obtained from a cross-sectional group of 120 student volunteers undertaking the Open University’s distance education course M206 Computing: An Object-Orientated Approach. The records were analysed for patterns in student working practices with regard to time and also compared with performance on independently marked assessments. The date on which students started the chapter and the number of days over which they took to complete it was shown to be very variable. Also noted was the high proportion of students leaving the work for long periods of time before continuing with it. No particular day of the week was found to be favourable although students did show individual preferences for the time of day they worked. Most working in the evening with a peak of starting work at 8pm. A smaller sub-peak was noticed at lunchtime (12pm). Time was not found to be a factor influencing performance in assessed work.