A qualitative cross-case analysis of postsecondary students' performance in asynchronous mechanical system laboratories
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Asynchronous education activities have grown rapidly through popular distance education delivery techniques. This rapid growth has precluded science, technology, and engineering. Practice oriented disciplines have considered laboratories as key components of the curriculum. The laboratory is the difficulty of teaching such subjects through distance education. Studies have indicated that independent asynchronous study is not suitable for everyone. A qualitative study investigating two cases and utilizing a cross case analysis was performed with the goal of establishing some characteristics found in individuals who are successful, and those who are challenged by asynchronous laboratory study. Also considered were key factors which could aid or impede asynchronous laboratory studies. Case One involved a course on agricultural mechanical systems taught at a Texas four-year university with 13 participants. Case Two involved a course on electrical controls taught at the technical center of a Texas community college with 18 participants. Data were collected from observation - journaling, performance scores, and a questionnaire Ã¢ÂÂ interview process; then analyzed using the constant comparative method. To insure trustworthiness; credibility, transferability, and dependability were addressed. The cross-case analysis found no conflicts and reinforced the findings. The findings yielded a list of characteristics of individuals who were successful using asynchronous laboratory studies. Successes represented an elite student profile and support the suggestions of Lemckert and Florance (2002). Students were more likely to be successful when they (a) were autonomous self directed learners; (b) had a prerequisite knowledge framework; (c); had prerequisite technical skills; (d) had high reading and comprehension skills; (e) held intrinsic value for the educational experience; and (f) sought and used instructional resources. The factors discovered which aid or impede asynchronous laboratories are course design and curriculum issues. Asynchronous laboratory studies are more likely to be successful when they (a) provide a responsive system of feedback; (b) introduce study as small, step-wise experiences; (c) do not introduce independent complex concepts; (d) provide sufficient instructor time; (e) standardize computer software and applications; and (f) pilot-test and field-test laboratory equipment and activities. Conclusions drawn indicate limited applications of asynchronous laboratories for select prepared individuals with a critically designed curriculum.
Hays, Kim Thomas (2006). A qualitative cross-case analysis of postsecondary students' performance in asynchronous mechanical system laboratories. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from