Student self-assessment for online learning readiness

FINALLY....  (2-5-2009)

The self-assessment is now available. The feedback has been enhanced (this will be an on-going process) and the tool has been tested, thanks to the Admissions Director, Rob W. Coffman, and Admissions Counselors Andrea Williard and Keith Eopechino at Penn State Harrisburg. I acknowledge with appreciation the feedback and input from Robin Gill at DuBois, the student advisers at the World Campus, the Schreyer Institute,  Laura Brown in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, and the many institutions I tapped for valid content. Thanks to all of you.

The survey may be accessed at 

https://esurvey.tlt.psu.edu/Survey.aspx?s=246aa3a5c4b64bb386543eab834f8e75

 The common questions themes were:

  • Learning Preference (Aural, Verbal/Text, Visual, Tactile Kinesthetic)
  • Cognitive Style
  • Motivation (job? money? personal knowledge?)
  • Technical Abilities and equipment (hardware, software, internet)
  • Study Habits (time management and organizational skills)
  • Literacy Competencies
  • Social Interactions
  • Personal Information
  • American Disability Act

For this current set of questions,  the categories/themes are:

  • Self-direction
  • Learning preferences
  • Study habits
  • Technology skills
  • Computer equipment capability

The questions are scored and feedback given at the completion. Right now, the feedback is not robust, but at this stage, I was simply trying to get the survey software to score the survey responses and give a total score. That part is working, so now I want to beef up the feedback.

 

 


Welcome to the world of online and blended learning. Before you enroll in an online course, take some time to think about yourself as a learner and see whether your characteristics would help you be a good online learner.

Please indicate your level of agreement with these statements.

Self-directedness

  1. I am good at setting goals and deadlines for myself.
  2. I have a really good reason for taking an online course.
  3. I finish the projects I start.
  4. I do not quit just because things get difficult.
  5. I can keep myself on track and on time.

Learning preferences

  1. I learn pretty easily.
  2. I can learn from things I hear, like lectures or audio recordings or podcasts.
  3. I have to read something to learn it best.
  4. I have developed a good way to solve problems I run into.
  5. I learn best by figuring things out for myself.
  6. I like to learn in a group, but I can learn on my own, too.
  7. I am willing to email or have discussions with people I might never see.

Study Habits

  1. I usually work in a place where I can read and work on assignments without distractions
  2. I can ignore distractions around me when I study.
  3. I am willing to spend 10-20 hours each week on this course.
  4. I keep a record of what my assignments are and when they are due.
  5. I plan my work in advance so that I can turn in my assignments on time.
  6. People around me will help me study and not try to distract me.
  7. I am willing to use email and other online tools to ask my classmates and instructors questions.

Technology Skills

  1. I am pretty good at using the computer.
  2. I am comfortable surfing the Internet.
  3. I am comfortable with things like doing searches, setting bookmarks, and downloading files.
  4. I am comfortable with things like installing software and changing configuration settings on my computer.
  5. I know someone who can help me if I have computer problems.

Computer equipment capabilities

  1. My computer runs reliably on Windows NT/ Vista or on Mac OS 10.4 or higher.
  2. I have a printer.
  3. I am connected to the Internet with a fairly fast, reliable Internet connection such as DSL or cable modem.
  4. I have virus protection software running on my computer.
  5. I have headphones or speakers and a microphone to use if a class has a videoconference.
  6. My browser will play several common multimedia (video and audio) formats.
     

The survey tool scores a 2 for every Strongly agree, 1 for every Agree, and 0 for a Disagree, then posts the total score and a recommnedation feedback statement.  I am writing the IRB application to establish reliability before implementation. The current feedback reads by score range:

Scoring and Feedback
0 - 10 -- Are you ready? From your answers, it looks like your time management skills and study habits (such as keeping yourself on track, meeting deadlines and working independently) need to be improved before you can be successful in online learning. If you feel that you have trouble learning new information, are not comfortable with written communications and participation in online discussions, or are not used to solving problems on your own, you may reconsider your decision to take an online course, as it usually provides less support from the instructor, than it may be necessary for you. An online course also requires at least 10 hours a week, which you may not be ready to spend at this time. Regarding your technical readiness, you don’t appear to have many of the necessary technical tools to take an online course and don’t seem to be very comfortable surfing and searching the online resources. The complete list of hardware and software required for online learning may vary slightly by course, such as the list of computer requirements for ANGEL or Statistics. Overall, it looks like at this point you might be more successful in a course that meets face-to-face, where you can have more support for your learning. You might try an online course when you have gained more experience with computer and study skills and time-management. Hopefully this survey has helped you assess whether or not you want to enroll in an online course at this time.

11 - 25 -- Are you ready? It looks like you might work better when external organization is imposed on you. While this may work just fine in a face-to-face class, an online class requires more independence in setting and following work goals and deadlines. In an online course you will have to pace yourself and figure out things on your own or with sometimes limited assistance from the instructor. As far as time management, you may want to develop a strategy for keeping yourself on track, such as keeping a written record of your tasks and allocating certain hours to work on each task. To become a successful online learner you may also want to improve your basic learning skills, such as reading, listening, writing, and problem solving. For some help, you can access the iStudy modules at http://istudy.psu.edu or talk with your advisor. Based on your answers about your technical readiness, it seems that you are not very comfortable using the computer for learning. The ability to keep your computer up-to date, search the Internet and download files is very important for successful online learning. To improve your basic computer and Internet skills, you can find resources. You also need to make sure you have all necessary hardware and software. For a complete list of hardware and software required for online learning, refer to the individual course and its minimum requirements. Overall, it looks like you need to improve either your technology skills or your learning skills before you try an online course. Go through the links above and try to take this survey again. If it still doesn’t help, you may want to wait with online learning till you have gained more experience with studying and time management. Hopefully this survey has helped you assess whether or not you want to enroll in an online course.

26 - 40 -- Are you ready? You seem to be fairly well-organized and learn fairly easily. That’s good, but you have to remember that learning from an online course usually requires more time and effort, because you will often have to pace yourself and figure out things on your own or with limited support from the instructor. If you want to improve your organization skills, you may consider allocating certain hours to work on each individual task to stay to track, to work on it the first thing each morning, and to keep a written record of your tasks and assignments. These strategies will help you not fall behind in the class. Most online courses consist mainly of written text, but a lot of them now also include audio recordings or podcasts. You will also have to communicate in writing with the instructor and your classmates. You may need to improve your basic learning skills, such as reading, listening, writing, and problem solving. For some help, you can access the iStudy modules or talk with your advisor. Since you have reported that you are fairly good at using the computer and the Internet, you should have no problem interacting with the online course environment. However, you may lack some of the necessary technical tools. Make sure that your computer meets the online course requirements for the course you are considering by looking at the course syllabus or contacting the instructor. Make sure you have help from someone who knows computers pretty well. If you need technical assistance, please go to http://helpdesk.psu.edu/help.html Overall, you seem to need to work on some of your learning and time management skills before trying an online course. If you follow the recommendations above, you should be able to be fairly successful in an online course. Hopefully this survey has helped you assess whether or not you want to enroll in an online course.

41 - 50 -- So, are you ready to learn online? You seem to be well-organized. Good organization and time management skills are very important for online learning, as you will have to work independently much of the time. You are prepared to pace yourself, figure out things on your own and communicate with people in writing. You generally seem to realize that taking an online course is more time consuming and requires more study discipline than a face-to-face class. If you feel that there are some areas where you may still need improvement and would like to learn how to be even more effective in your learning, try resources like ITS Helpdesk. Overall, you will probably do fairly well in an online course, with a little extra effort on your part. Hopefully this survey has helped you assess whether or not you want to enroll in an online course.

51 - 60 -- Are you ready? You seem to realize that online courses require a considerable amount of time and you are willing to spend it. You have a perfect studying environment with minimum distractions. You finish all projects you start and are persistent in reaching your goals. You seem to learn very easily, have good problem-solving skills and feel very comfortable using online communications and discussing course topics with people you have never seen. All these are very important qualities for successful online learning, and you seem to be fully prepared to take charge of your own learning process. The fact that you consistently do things in advance and keep track of all your assignments also bodes well for your success in online learning. It looks like you are a very experienced computer user, and shouldn’t have any problems accessing or interacting with the online course. If you encounter a technical problem with your computer, you can always contact the ITS Helpdesk. Hopefully this survey has helped you assess whether or not you want to enroll in an online course. If so, then, Good Luck!