Despite Popularity, Researcher Finds Not Everyone Can Successfully Learn Through Online Courses

February 25, 2008

Since the 1990s, online courses have provided an opportunity for busy adults to continue their education by completing courses in the comfort of their own homes. However, this may not be the best solution for everyone. A researcher at the University of Missouri has found some students may find success in these types of courses more easily than others.

Shawna L. Strickland, clinical assistant professor in the MU School of Health Professions, studied the demographics and personality types of distance learners.

“Correlations between learning styles and success in distance education have shown to be inconclusive,” Strickland said. “However, one common theme reappears: the successful traits of a distance learner are similar to the successful traits of an adult learner in traditional educational settings.”

With a mere 30 percent of distance learners actually completing their courses, learning more about the characteristics of these students would help educators structure online courses to be as beneficial as possible. Considering the lack of institutional support and isolation involved in the nature of online courses, success in these courses requires a person that is determined and responsible, Strickland said.

“The success of distance learning is dependent on communication among the learner, his or her peers and the instructor,” Strickland said. “To encourage success in distance learning, it is necessary to evaluate each individual’s needs on a case-by-case basis.”

One trait that aids in distance learning is related to personality type. Strickland found those with quiet, introverted personalities are more likely to feel comfortable with online learning courses. Shy individuals have a tendency to be uninvolved in the typical classroom setting. Online courses allow them to complete work on their own with a degree of anonymity.

“Distance learning allows the learner to overcome traditional barriers to learning such as location, disabilities, time constraints and familial obligations,” Strickland said. “However, not every learner will be successful in a distance learning environment.”

The study – “Understanding Successful Characteristics of Adult Learners” – was published in the most recent edition of Respiratory Care Education Annual.

Source: University of Missouri

Explore further: Weather reports on the Sun could lead to safer space travel

Related Stories

Controlling interactions between distant qubits

July 23, 2015

A big part of the burgeoning science of quantum computation is reliably storing and processing information in the form of quantum bits, or qubits. One of the obstacles to this goal is the difficulty of preserving the fragile ...

Making sense of our evolution

July 13, 2015

The science about our our special senses - vision, smell, hearing and taste - offers fascinating and unique perspectives on our evolution.

Galaxy survey to probe why the universe is accelerating

June 30, 2015

We know that our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, but what causes this growth remains a mystery. The most likely explanation is that a strange force dubbed "dark energy" is driving it. Now a new astronomical ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.