Wake‐up calls for learning: an inclusive approach to supporting students in distance education

Dr Ursula Wingate, Dept of Education and Professional Studies, King’s College London

Research team:

Stylianos Hatzipanagos

TRA4 U Wingate (Final Report) [pdf, 186kb]

The project’s objectives were
1. To develop and evaluate an innovative and inclusive approach to supporting academic writing of students in distant education
2. To identify a suitable time and mode of delivery for providing this support; and
3. To develop a wider understanding among lecturers in the University of London International Programmes of the need for, and potential methods of student support.

The main achievements were:
• The development of an online course with three discipline‐specific modules for the development of academic writing that is now permanently available for students of the BSc Business Administration [BBA] programme at Royal Holloway [RHUL]), and can be adapted to other distance learning programmes.
• The evaluation of the impact of this course and identification of limitations in its delivery.
• Recommendations on how to offer this type of learning support mechanism more effectively in distance learning programmes.

The format of the online course was based on a generic framework that I had developed and applied to several disciplines at King’s College London. The framework was tested and evaluated at Kings (Wingate, 2008), and proved to be successful in terms of pedagogical principles, student uptake, as well as student perceptions of the usefulness of the various modules for their learning. Whilst the delivery of similar online courses was successful in the ‘conventional’ on‐campus teaching environment at King’s, where students are directly referred to the modules by tutors, a research question was how successful it would be in an ODL environment. This was tested by an ‘intervention’ in which two cohorts in the BBA at RHUL were given access to the course at different times of their study programme. This intervention can be regarded as a case study for using this teaching/learning approach in a distance learning environment.

The evaluation of the impact of the course showed that the delivery in this intervention met with only limited success. This point will be discussed in more detail in the final project report (see above link).

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