The use of a learning management system to enhance the performance and engagement of students in South Africa
This study focused on a higher education environment that has changed rapidly over the last 20 years. These days, during the fourth industrial revolution, almost all higher education institutions use some sort of learning management system to keep track of the digital environment. Online assessment tools, which help students to stay engaged and to improve their performance, are important in the current digital age. In this study, the researcher created a platform for teaching and learning by using online technology, to enhance student engagement and performance. This study followed the article option route and, thus, resulted in two publishable articles. The first article examines a blended learning environment by using an online assessment tool to achieve improved performance and engagement in a first-year statistics class. The second article focuses on a second-year biostatistics course during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and which, consequently, used emergency remote teaching. This article discusses how a learning management system, in this case, Blackboard, was incorporated to create a learning and teaching environment that engaged students and promoted satisfactory academic performance. The empirical investigation reported on in the first article focused on an online assessment tool in a blended teaching environment. A pragmatic parallel mixed method design was applied. Qualitative and quantitative results were drawn from two groups, the experimental group (37 students) and the control group (64 students). Tutorials, assignments and semester tests were used to collect quantitative data, including from the Classroom Survey of Student Engagement (CLASSE).1 Open-ended questions incorporated in the survey, as well as interviews with students, provided the qualitative data. Data analysis involved two samplet-tests and regression analysis. The researcher developed an online assessment tool (the intervention) with the help of the online learning assessment platform Questionmark. The online assessment tool was created in such a way that it provided immediate feedback after each question. After the students received the feedback, they could answer the same question again, until they were successful. Only when a question had been answered correctly did the program allow the students to continue with the next question, until the assessment had been completed. Once students had completed the assessment, the program allowed them to do the tutorial assessment without any intervention; the tutorial contributed to students’ final marks. The empirical investigation reported on by the second article used the learning management system Blackboard to enhance student engagement and performance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting lockdown, the researcher was forced to use emergency remote teaching as a teaching and the learning platform. A quasi-experimental design without a control group was used with a group of biostatistics students (n=24). A prepost-test, tutorials, practicals and semester tests, together with a post-course questionnaire, provided quantitative data for analysis. Pre-post-test marks were compared by using paired t-tests. Time spent on tasks and student activity (number of hits) were also recorded. Regression analysis analysed the correlation between student activity, time spent on tasks via Blackboard, and students’ resulting grades. Qualitative data were collected by means of the CLASSE survey of student engagement. This questionnaire had seven open-ended questions, and the qualitative data it yielded was only used to enrich the quantitative data. The performance and engagement of students at higher education institutions are constantly under a magnifying glass, and continuous research in this area is relevant across the world. This research is even more relevant when emergency remote teaching is expected of educators during a pandemic. The significance of the study relates to improving a teaching and learning platform for online learning. The innovations proposed by this study could create positive conditions for student learning.
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Massyn, Liezel (University of the Free State, 2009-05)English: This study has been undertaken against the background of a higher education environment that is changing, especially under the influence of the knowledge economy, the influx of adult learners and the impact of ...
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