Learning tactics of successful online learners

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


The relationship between locus of control and academic performance has been documented in numerous studies. However, there are very few studies that have been designed to investigate that relationship with online learners. Individuals with a strong internal locus of control are said to use resources in unique ways, are persistent, and generally reach the goals that they set for themselves. However, it is not known what specific tactics these individuals utilize in order to succeed. The purpose of this study was twofold. The first was to explore the relationship between internal locus of control as measured by Rotter's Locus of Control Inventory and academic performance measured by course grade among online learners, the second was to investigate the unique learning tactics of successful online learners. Students enrolled in fall semester 2004 online courses at Montana State University Great Falls College of Technology were asked to participate in an online study of their learning tactics. Though there was no statistically significant difference between the sample (n = 122) and the population (N = 595) with regard to age, gender, and grade distribution in this study, a preponderance of high grades and strong internal locus of control scores within the sample resulted in a nonstatistically significant relationship between locus of control and academic performance. The sample was predominately successful in online courses and reflected an internal locus of control. Ten of the students in the sample were interviewed to explore the learning tactics that they used to navigate within the online learning environment. Three themes or learning tactics emerged from the oneonone interviews. The first tactic focused on the amount of time required in online courses, the second focused on the necessary commitment of the student to attend to the online course, and the third tactic related to the resistance of the students to engage in group work and projects within their online courses. It is recommended that these tactics be further investigated as related to student success in online delivered courses.




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