Understanding Students’ Use of Online Learning Tools through Online Learning Readiness Assessment

Understanding Students’ Use of Online Learning Tools through Online Learning Readiness Assessment

Kriengsak Panuwatwanich (Griffith University, Australia) and Rodney A. Stewart (Griffith University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5011-4.ch017


Understanding the readiness of students to undertake online education has been viewed as a necessary precursor to ensuring their success in an online learning environment. To serve this purpose, a number of Online Learning Readiness (OLR) assessment tools have been developed. However, the relationship between the students’ readiness, assessed by these tools, and the actual online learning outcomes has not been well established. This chapter presents a study that assesses the Online Learning Readiness (OLR) of a sample group of postgraduate engineering students and determines whether there is any association between the level of readiness and the extent to which the students use online learning tools. The research employed a questionnaire survey targeting a group of postgraduate students undertaking a project management course at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. Based on the survey data from 30 valid responses, it was found that the sampled students had different levels of OLR and can be clustered into three main groups: developed, less-developed, and developing OLR, and that the higher level of OLR can be associated with more extensive use of online learning tools.
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Online Learning Readiness Assessment

Watkins et al. (2004) highlight that it is the responsibilities of educators to ensure that students adequately prepared to be successful in an online learning environment, and that a readiness assessment instrument is an important tool for improving student performance through useful online learning experiences. In an attempt to understand and measure a student’s level of OLR, a number of OLR assessment instruments were developed and validated over the past decade. This research was focused on those instruments that were developed and validated within the context of higher-education. These are mainly by Smith et al. (2003), Watkins et al. (2004) and Pillay et al. (2007).

Smith et al. (2003) conducted an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) on the 13-item Readiness for Online Learning questionnaire developed by McVay (2001) using a sample of undergraduate students from the US and Australia. The analysis results suggested two underlying factors of OLR: Comfort with E-learning and Self-Management of Learning. These factors were consistent with the subsequent EFA conducted by Smith (2005) using a sample of Australian undergraduate university students.

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