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E-Learning through a magnifying glass : exploring experiences of students and teachers in higher education

Mirza, Mahrukh (2008) E-Learning through a magnifying glass : exploring experiences of students and teachers in higher education. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The literature reveals a gap between expectations and outcomes of e-learning and the need to develop a technologically and pedagogically effective e-learning environment. The literature suggested that making the shift from a Behaviorist to Constructivist approach could narrow this gap. Therefore, the aim of the study was to investigate and determine if the shift from teacher-led (behaviourist) approach to learner-centred approach (constructivist) could help in reducing the gap between expectations and outcomes of e-learning. The focus of the research was on the roles of information and computer technology in improving the quality of teaching and learning, and on looking to future possibilities and challenges to facilitate the development of pedagogically effective e-learning environment. In order to achieve the aim, the primary objective was to examine and evaluate learners' and teachers' experiences of e-learning and how e-learning has impacted on their expectations and what needs to be improved if they are to meet these new expectations. The study identified motivators and barriers to e-learning for teachers and learners and recommended measures that might be taken to remove or lessen the impact of such identified barriers. The study found that the online environment clearly has the capability to propagate the constructivist approach by encouraging learner controlled, critically reflected and deeper learning but also found that many students still preferred the behaviourist approach to learning (direct instructions) and that the preferences for the level of learner-control may also vary from culture to culture (Western culture may emphasise learners' control over their environment while eastern cultures may emphasise teachers' control). Therefore, constructivism may not be suitable to all subjects and all students. The study concluded that placing a greater value on teachers as the knowledge expert and on objectivism of knowledge (Behaviourism) or placing a greater value on learners as independent and constructive learners (Constructivism) creates a bias in either direction and results in unsatisfied learners and teachers. It was established that it is important to tip the balance equally between teachers and learners rather than making it completely student-centred or completely teacher-led approach. The researcher coins it as `teacher-learner balanced' approach.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > Dentistry (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.499976
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2016 13:47
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2016 13:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10322

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