Online training

Sustainability in the face of the unskilled, unsupervised, unmotivated “long tail”

Lisa Wise*, Benedict Williams, Gregor McLean, Jason Skues

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

Abstract

Communities of discourse and market places often follow power laws with “long tailed” distributions. The present student “voucher” system and uncapped demand in higher education leads to an analogous “long tail” in the tertiary sector. We argue that student attrition in the “long tail” is part of a natural democratic process of “churn”-legitimate peripheral participation which leads some students to the realisation that they are not sufficiently motivated or prepared for fuller participation in the academic community. We illustrate this idea with data from a task in an introductory psychology program to examine the relationship between persistence, performance, motivation and demographics. We found distinct subgroups whose performance is defined by levels of conscientiousness/motivation and initial skill. We suggest that it may be counterproductive to retain students who perform poorly or are disengaged. However, we also identified different patterns of performance and suggest that attrition can be attenuated by targeted interventions to improve initial performance of identified groups.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASCILITE 2012 - Annual conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Tertiary Education
PublisherASCILITE
Pages1-10
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780473229894
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventAnnual conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Tertiary Education, ASCILITE 2012 - Wellington, New Zealand
Duration: 25 Nov 201228 Nov 2012

Other

OtherAnnual conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Tertiary Education, ASCILITE 2012
CountryNew Zealand
CityWellington
Period25/11/1228/11/12

Keywords

  • Long tail
  • Mastery
  • Motivation
  • Online learning

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