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The Experiences and Perceptions of Non-Traditional Students Enrolled in an Online Teacher Education Course


Downing, J, The Experiences and Perceptions of Non-Traditional Students Enrolled in an Online Teacher Education Course, What is Next in Educational Research?, Sense Publishers, S Fan, J Fielding-Wells (ed), The Netherlands, pp. 93-106. ISBN 9789463005227 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2016 Sense Publishers

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This chapter reports on an investigation of the experiences of non-traditional students enrolled in a fully online teacher-education course at a mid-sized university in Australia. The research sought to better understand the students; to identify what helped or hindered their ability to remain motivated, engaged and satisfied with their chosen course. The findings revealed the complex and multi-dimensional nature of non-traditional students, who were often juggling the demands of study with work, family and community commitments. For many participants, particularly those first in their family to attend university, there was a palpable sense of excitement, even wonder, at the potential for personal transformation through success at university. This was, however, often tempered by indications of a low level of resilience, even fragility, in their belief that they could succeed. Through interviews, emails and online discussion board postings, participants shared their lived experience and in doing so, provided insight into their hopes and needs.

Globally, universities are reporting a significant increase in enrolments from non-traditional students. Administrators, support staff, and academics need to know how these students differ from the traditional cohort in order to understand how best to support their needs. Presently, there appears to be an assumption that the traditional learning and teaching environment, whether on campus or online, will be appropriate for these students. Yet this sets the scene for study to compete with, rather than complement other duties as an employee, parent or community member. This chapter contends that a deeper understanding of non-traditional students will facilitate a reconsideration of pedagogical approaches and pastoral care, and help build a more inclusive and engaging learning environment.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:non traditional students;higher education, pedagogy, online
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education systems
Research Field:Higher education
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Downing, J (Dr Jillian Downing)
ID Code:109589
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2016-06-22
Last Modified:2017-06-14

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