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Education paper head of the class

A paper co-authored by a member of the Faculty of Education has won the Best Research Paper Award at the 2011 European Distance and E-Learning Network Annual Conference in Dublin.

Dr. Dale Kirby co-authored Student Perceptions and Preferences for Tertiary Online Courses: Does Prior High School Distance Learning Make a Difference? with Dennis B. Sharpe and Michael K. Barbour of Wayne State University.
The manuscript is currently being reviewed by the American Journal of Distance Education.

Papers from researchers in the Faculty of Education have won this conference award in three of the past four years. All of these projects were funded through the SSHRC CURA program in the Faculty of Education.

Distance education and online learning at the K-12 level has grown substantially over the past two decades. While there are many reasons for this growth, some proponents argue that students need to learn in the online environment to prepare them for future professional and lifelong learning opportunities that will inevitably require them to learn online.

In a case study with students at one university, 127 students who had completed at least one distance education course were surveyed during their first and fourth year of post-secondary studies.

When controlled for those who had previous distance education experience in high school, Dr. Kirby and his co-authors found self-regulatory learning behaviours frequently linked to positive experiences and outcomes in online and distance education courses were equally apparent in all of the participating university students regardless of whether or not they had previously studied online.

These findings suggest that high school students do not gain independent learning skills and attitudes through learning in an online environment, regardless of what stakeholders, administrators, teachers, parents, and even students themselves believe.