Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Tutorials: Factors Affecting Students’ Preferences and Choices

September 19, 2005

This study aimed to determine the factors that affect students’ preferences regarding tutorial modes. A learning-habit inclinations questionnaire (LHIQ) was constructed and administered to 288 students. Factor analysis revealed four factors: “time management,” “ease of access” to learning materials, “positive aspects of interaction,” and “negative aspects of interaction.” Seven satellite-based synchronous tutorials were delivered to 92 students in a Research Methods course. The following semester, 73 other students taking the same course received the same seven tutorials with the same tutor but in a mixed mode of delivery: three similar satellite-based synchronous tutorials and four satellite-based asynchronous videocassettes containing the recorded tutorials of the previous semester. Attitudes toward different components of the learning environments were measured and the LHIQ was administered. Results revealed that preferences of tutorial mode were determined by students’ learning-habit inclinations: Those who prefer the satellite-based synchronous tutorials have stronger views toward the positive aspects of interactions and score lower on the need for autonomy and access to learning materials than those who prefer the satellite-based asynchronous tutorials. Methodological (lessons on field research), theoretical (significance of learning styles in effective teaching and learning), and practical (flexibility in teaching practices) implications are discussed.

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