Can mature ľage non-traditional students succeed in an online Bachelor of Dementia Care program?
Goldberg, LR and Canty, A and King, AE and Price, AD and Carr, AR and Ziebell, JM and Westbury, JL and Elliot, K-E, Can mature -age non-traditional students succeed in an online Bachelor of Dementia Care program?, International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) World Congress, San Francisco, 23-27 July 2017, San Francisco (2017) [Conference Extract]
An important strategy to increase knowledge, skills, and confidence of the workforce providing a range of care to people with dementia is access to contemporary evidence-based education. This paper outlines the innovative, fully online Bachelor of Dementia Care degree offered by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre at the University of Tasmania (Australia). It presents an exploratory single-case study of 65 students in the first degree cohort: 31 students had previous university-level experience, 34 did not. All passed the units in which they had enrolled. Students with previous university-level experience showed significantly superior performance (p <.05) in only 3 of the 15 units all students had completed to date. Further, the average across-unit grade for students in both groups was no lower than a Credit (60-70%). As judged from comments on University surveys, discussion boards, and requests for help, students with no previous university-level experience needed time to adapt to the culture of university-level study, understand the nuances of ethical academic writing, and learn how to balance the intensity of studying over consecutive semesters with work and family responsibilities. These differences highlight the importance of scaffolding learning and providing step-by-step guidance for all students, but particularly those with no previous university-level experience. Findings give credence to the institutional and student support, curriculum planning, unit structure, and methods of presentation that are integral to this online degree to provide a successful online learning experience for mature-age non-traditional students.