Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Overcoming Academic Problems

Greetings from the Australian national Universality in Canberra, where Dr Melissa Pech is speaking on "I Think I Can't: Overcoming Barriers to Academic and Professional Problems". University study and research can be a very stressful experience and perhaps such seminars should be part of the program, rather than an optional activity. Also an online version of the seminars would be useful for those staff and students who are not on campus.

E-learning presents new challenges for assisting students. The on-line courses I run have about the same completion rate as conventional face to face ones (about 75%). However, with an online course students ten to withdraw early in the course, rather than failing later, due to the increased feedback they receive. This creates a need for extra support to students early in the semester.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) present new challenges for assisting students. As well as the large number of students (hundreds of thousands, rather than hundreds) there is the issue of the low completion rate. With a MOOC, the completion rate is typically about 5%, so it would not be realistic, or helpful to tell a student that if they were just to try harder they will successfully complete the course. The numbers of MOOC students may also present a problem in providing they type of student support which universities are required to provide, ethically and by law, to all students.

ps: Dr Pech's seminar was the first in a series of seminars by the ANU Counselling Centre:
  1. "Rules For Brains", 29 April, Gail Frank
  2. Developing an Attitude for Gratitude, 27 May, Rachel Tyson
  3. Minds for Mental Health and Well Being, 19 August, Carol Beynon
  4. Healthy Adaptions to Perfectionism, 23 September, Maureen MacGinley
  5. Attention - The Vital Muscle of the Mind, 14 October, Moira Turnbull

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