Flexible coursework delivery to Australian postgraduates: How effective is the teaching and learning?

Abstract

The educational implications of non-traditional delivery methods atpostgraduate level are not yet well understood. A major question is whetheradvantages of access and flexibility are accompanied by trade-offs inlearning experiences and outcomes. In this paper we address the effectivenessof delivery methods currently used in postgraduate coursework programs inAustralia. We draw heavily on a national study of flexible delivery methodsin postgraduate education, conducted in 1995.

Following a nation-wide survey, we investigated the effects of deliverytechnologies on learning and teaching in seven postgraduate courses.Information was collected, mostly by taped interview, from staff andstudents, and also from course documentation. We present here a typology,based on teaching and learning characteristics, by which we found it usefulto group delivery methods. We identify and discuss four major issuesconcerning the effects of these delivery methods on learning and on teaching,under the headi ngs learner control of learning, interaction and socialexchange, teachers as supporters of student learning and feedback inteaching. As well, we report, according to the typology, the effects ofspecific technologies on teaching and learning.

We conclude that on the score of encouraging intellectual independencemany non-traditional delivery methods are fairly robust – on managingcomplexity or uncertainty and encouraging a lively critical inquiry, theyfare less well. From what we have seen, the most effective strategies atpostgraduate level use integrated delivery approaches to create flexiblelearning environments with premiums on individual time management andpractical application of learning. Considerably more detailed evaluation ofthe resulting learning outcomes is needed.

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Beattie, K., James, R. Flexible coursework delivery to Australian postgraduates: How effective is the teaching and learning?. Higher Education 33, 177–194 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1002912110279

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Keywords

  • Student Learning
  • Time Management
  • Learning Outcome
  • Delivery Method
  • Detailed Evaluation