Listening to The Student Voice in Online Masters Community and Resource Development


  •  Alison Clapp    

Abstract

Expectations of online masters students commencing their studies has been under-researched, as have the challenges of transition from undergraduates learning on-campus to postgraduate online students. The study described here investigates student expectations of this transition, development of resources for academic skills teaching, and student evaluation of interventions supporting them to join the academic community as masters. The methods were a series of action research cycles with a total of 38 students participating from 5 annual cohorts of Master of Research students, with the taught component entirely online. A student cohort (12 students) surveyed for initial course evaluation led to resources being developed for the course induction. Group interviews with the following cohorts evaluated new resource development after each course iteration, leading to further online seminars and skills resources development. In addition, further synchronous and non-synchronous activities with teacher presence were employed to improve student enculturation in the academic community. Recorded online interviews in virtual classrooms preceded transcription and thematic analysis, showing that student expectations of masters study and the skills required to join the academic community in all cohorts needed management. Students expected a continuation of undergraduate studies, ‘but harder’. Development of an optional online academic skills course, allied to student activities embedded in specialist content with increased teacher and social presence, was praised by the last student cohort interviewed. The online skills course is available to other online courses within this Graduate School. This model may be transferable to other institutions, particularly in light of increased online Covid-19 teaching.



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4741
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-475X
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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