The relationships between teachers' approaches to teaching, students' perceptions of course experiences, and students' approaches to studying in electronic distance learning environments
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Students' approaches to studying have been one of important issues in distance education because distance-learning students spend most time studying independently and the ways students approach their studying are fundamental in determining the quality of learning outcomes. Although several researchers have attempted to explain the differential adoption in distance learning-students’ approaches to studying, a relational study to associate students’ approaches to studying with approaches to teaching of their instructors at distance has been rarely sought. Thus, this study was intended to examine the relationships between instructors’ approaches to teaching, students’ perceptions of course experiences, and students’ approaches to studying in electronic distance learning environment.|The study used the Approaches to Teaching Inventory, the Approaches to Studying Questionnaire, and Course Experience Questionnaire, which were modified to suit the context of distance education. The findings were derived from the principal component factor analyses and analyses of variance of 82 distance courses (involving 82 instructors and 414 students) in the Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Educational Board.|First, the results indicated that if an instructor was more oriented toward student-focused strategy with the intention of helping students’ conceptual change, their students were less likely to adopt a reproducing orientation to studying. Conversely, if an instructor was more oriented toward teacher-focused strategy with the intention of transmitting information to students, students were less likely to report that they adopt a meaning orientation to studying. Second, the results revealed that students’ meaning orientations to studying were linked to their perceptions of high quality teaching, a clear awareness of the goals, and independent choice over study topics, while reproducing orientations to studying were linked to their perceptions of a heavy workload and assessment encouraging memorization and recall. These findings indicate that students’ approaches to studying are reactions to the teaching environment, whether students are in a distance course or a traditional setting. Some implications were discussed regarding the importance of distance instructors’ changing role and instructional factors in (1) maximizing the chances that students will adopt a meaning orientation to studying and (2) minimizing the chances that they will adopt a reproducing orientation to studying.
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