Online Accelerated Learning Experiences and Self-Regulated Learning Skills Among Undergraduate Students

Online Accelerated Learning Experiences and Self-Regulated Learning Skills Among Undergraduate Students

Cherng-Jyh Yen, Emrah Emre Ozkeskin, Moussa Tankari, Chih-Hsiung Tu, Hoda Harati, Laura E. Sujo-Montes
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJOPCD.2021070102
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Many institutions have adopted an online accelerated learning model in which intensive online instructions are offered during the course of a normal semester to help students complete classes. Current research has focused on comparing different instructional lengths. Mixed findings have been reported. Accelerated instructions are not necessarily superior or inferior to traditional 16-week instructions. Research should focus on what is crucial and how to prepare students to succeed in accelerated online courses. This study examines whether self-regulated learning (SRL) skills may serve as predictors of positive accelerated learning experiences. It concludes that five SRL skills can predict success in online accelerated learning experiences and suggested educators should identify and prepare students with relevant SRL skills prior to attempting accelerated instructions to warrant a positive learning experience.
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Educational institutions are offering more accelerated online instructions to meet the needs of adult learners, improve retention rates, and secure institutional revenues. Shaw et al. (2013) reported that more than half (59.6%) of online course lengths were less than 15 weeks. Educational institutions have adopted accelerated learning models primarily to accommodate the heavy work schedules of adult learners and their parental responsibilities (Rutschow & Crary-Ross, 2014). Moreover, accelerated learning can stabilize institutional finances and improve student retention rate (Sheldon & Durdella, 2010). The rationale to integrate accelerated classes into regular spring or fall curricula include: allowing students to enroll in more credit hours for financial aid purposes, accommodating non-traditional student schedules, and permitting students to promptly make up the classes they had previously failed or withdrawn from (Gross et al., 2010). In general, students have considered online accelerated courses learning as a supplementary substitute for face-to-face instructions (McKee et al. 2012). As suggested by Ramaley (2013), optimal instruction lengths are vital for the future of online higher education.

Accelerated instructions are typically less than 16 weeks and enables students to finish two separate courses in the time of one regular course. It is referred to interchangeably as: minimester, intensive, compressed, compacted, or shorter-term courses. To accommodate the interest of adult learners in shorter-term instruction, many schools with accelerated instructions have begun offering online accelerated degree programs, certificates, professional development courses, or cohorts.

The students enrolled in online accelerated instructions prefer shorter and more intensive courses (Ho & Polonsky, 2012). In previous research, short-term courses were found to result in better performance, achievement, and engagement in some studies (Scott & Conrad, 1992; DiGregorio, 1997-1998), but show no difference from regular courses (Shaw et. al., 2013; Heathcock, 2015), or be inferior to regular courses in other study (Ferguson & DeFlice, 2010). Some concerns about accelerated courses were also voiced from learners (Ross-Gordon, 2011) and instructors (Krug et al., 2016). These concerns included being less effective for upper level courses, higher mental stress and physical pressure in teaching them, sacrifice of rigor for convenience, and lessened breadth and depth. In addition, learners were found to develop anxiety and stress during online accelerated instructions (Hewitt, 2017) which might impair their cognitive learning (de Jong, 2010). In one study (Stephens, 2012), higher drop-out rates probably resulted from higher enrollment in compressed courses.

Existing research (Kuiper et al., 2015) has focused on learning outcomes, satisfaction, and experiences in the comparison between accelerated instruction lengths and traditional lengths. But the findings were mixed and inconclusive (Martin, & Culver, 2007), particularly in learning outcomes and experiences (Johnson & Rose, 2015). Given the high demand of accelerated instructions due to the ease for them to fit into the working adults’ schedule, researchers have begun focusing on what and how to prepare students with competent self-regulated skills so that they can succeed in abbreviated courses (Hesterman, 2015; Oxford University, 2016; Shaw & Molnar, 2011).

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