Students, attendance and online notes

 

Sir, – We note with interest the debate in recent days regarding students’ experiences of third-level teaching and learning (“Students have unrealistic expectations, academic says”, January 21st).

Since 2008, we have collaborated with colleagues in a multi-institutional research project across Ireland examining students’ use of online learning systems at third level. A total of 12 institutions are currently participating (a mix of universities, institutes of technology and private colleges). Our dataset has over 20,000 responses from students.

Each year we have asked whether the presence of notes online deters them from attending lectures.

The figures indicate that a substantial majority do not regard the availability of notes as a reason not to attend.

Other research examining attendance has shown that students do not attend for many reasons, including caring responsibilities, part-time work, commutes, or inflexibility in timetables.

The issue is not tied to the presence or absence of an online learning system containing notes.

But our data also shows such systems have been invaluable to non-traditional learners entering higher education, with notes and other online resources supporting them much more fully than was possible in years gone by.

We continue this research to try to understand the complex ways in which technologies (both old and new) are mediating students’ learning.

We welcome the participation of lecturers in this work and encourage them to engage with the national and local initiatives to enhance teaching and digital capacity so that together we can support students navigating both third level and a rapidly changing digital environment. – Yours, etc,

EAMON COSTELLO,

Dublin City University;

TOM FARRELLY,

Institute of Technology

Tralee;

NUALA HARDING,

Athlone Institute

of Technology;

THERESA LOGAN-PHELAN,

Trinity College Dublin;

CLAIRE McAVINIA,

Dublin Institute

of Technology;

GERALDINE

McDERMOTT,

Athlone Institute

of Technology;

DANIEL McSWEENEY,

Institute of Technology

Blanchardstown;

MUIRIS O’GRADY,

Institute of Art, Design

and Technology,

Dún Laoghaire;

DAMIEN RAFTERY,

Institute of Technology

Carlow;

ANGELICA RISQUEZ,

University of Limerick;

DEIRDRE RYAN,

Mary Immaculate College,

Limerick.