Lecturers’ vs. students’ perceptions of the accessibility of instructional materials

Abstract

This goal of this study was to examine the differences between lecturers and students’ perceptions of the accessibility of instructional materials. The perceptions of 12 mature computing distance education students and 12 computing lecturers were examined using the knowledge elicitation techniques of card sorting and laddering. The study showed that lecturers had pedagogical views while students tended to concentrate on surface attributes such as appearance. Students perceived instructional materials containing visual representations as most accessible. This has two implications for the professional development of computing lecturers designing instructional materials. First, lecturers need to appreciate the differences between expert and novice views of accessibility and how students will engage with the materials. Second, lecturers need to understand that learners perceive instructional materials containing visual representations as more accessible compared to ‘text only’ versions. Hence greater use of these may enable students to engage more readily in learning. Given that print is the ubiquitous teaching medium this is likely to have implications for students and lecturers in other disciplines.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to John Richardson and Steve Godwin for help with the data analysis, and Adrian Kirkwood and John Richardson for commenting on this paper, to Gordon Rugg for his support with the sorting and␣laddering techniques, to Marian Petre and Laurie Keller for assistance with the study design, and to the students and lecturers that took part in this study.

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Correspondence to Linda Price.

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Price, L. Lecturers’ vs. students’ perceptions of the accessibility of instructional materials. Instr Sci 35, 317–341 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-006-9009-y

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Key words

  • Instructional materials
  • visual representations
  • teacher–student differences
  • deep and surface learning
  • dual coding theory