The National Survey of Student Engagement just released its 2006 Annual Report, with this surprising bit of data:
Compared with campus-based students, distance education learners reported higher levels of academic challenge, engaged more often in deep learning activities, and reported greater developmental gains from college.
I almost don’t know what to say about this reported engagement. Is this a real or imagined higher level; I mean do distance learners feel more challenged because they are learning in isolation? Or is this perception based on learners who are more likely to challenge themselves in the first place? Or are distance learners looking for something else from the college experience?
On the other hand, the report notes that “Distance education students are less involved in active and collaborative learning.” That makes sense given the asynchronous nature of distance education.
Inside Higher Ed titles its article on the report “The Engaged E-Learner,” but the article really tackles the issue of how we measure such things as engagement or any educational outcome. How do we develop or adhere to college-wide standards, and how do we interpret results that help us assess courses as well as programs?
*Next week, I’ll look again at the portfolio method of assessment, which might provide both the flexibility of content and the concrete results from which a diverse group of programs could benefit.