Hung, Chow, Chen, and Own conducted a study of student readiness for online learning by measuring students’ perceptions of their ability for “self-directed learning, motivation for learning, computer/Internet self‑efficacy, learner control, and online communication self‑efficacy.” The study included 1051 Taiwanese college students and found that these students considered themselves prepared in motivation for learning, computer/Internet, and online communication self-efficacy, but were less prepared in self-directed learning and learner control.
The need for this research was based on recognizing the fundamental differences between online learning and traditional classrooms. Students working online need to assume a greater responsibility for their learning in that they must actively seek out the assignments online, manage their work time effectively, participate in online activities, and make meaningful contributions to the work. Their study was designed to measure students’ perceptions in each of the five dimensions in order to find if such a study is statistically valid, identify students’ readiness for online learning, and if there are differences by class year or gender.
The authors conducted a literature search to identify the five dimensions addressed in this study. Self-directed learning is a measure of a student’s ability to establish personal goals, identify the necessary resources, schedule their work, and in general, take personal responsibility. Motivation for learning includes intrinsic characteristics like personal interest or curiosity, and extrinsic motivations to receive rewards. Learner control refers to the inherent flexibility of asynchronous online learning where students can choose specific activities, the time spent on activities, or the activity sequence. Computer and Internet self‑efficacy measures the ability to use the Internet to accomplish tasks rather than just technical ability. Online communication self‑efficacy is the ability to effectively use the technology to participate in intellectual discourse with classmates and instructors.
The study used a twenty-six question instrument where each question addressed one of the five dimensions and students responded using a five-point Likert scale. The questionnaire was given to students in one of five online classes in chemistry, calculus, statistics, ecology, and environmental science at three different universities in the middle of the term. The analysis of the results compared student responses by gender, and class year.
The authors first evaluated the results to determine the validity of the responses and concluded that the student responses were statistically significant and therefore represent their perceptions of online learning readiness and their recognition that this is important for online success. Based on student responses, the authors conclude that students see themselves as well prepared in computer/Internet self‑efficacy, motivation for learning, and online communication self‑efficacy, but less prepared in learner control or self‑directed learning. This latter finding indicates the importance of teaching students good time management skills for ordering and planning the necessary tasks. The study found no differences due to gender but did find that older, more mature students generally ranked higher in learner control and self‑directed learning.
The implication of this study is that instructors of lower level classes need to recognize that their students may lack the personal skills to succeed. The instructor can then provide clear information, developmental activities, and feedback to help these students mature.
Finally, this study measured only the students own perceptions of their readiness for online learning and did not correlate these findings with a measure of success in the course. In their conclusion, the authors suggest further study to determine if this instrument can predict student performance.
Hung, M.-L., Chou, C., Chen, C.-H., & Own, Z.-Y. (2010). Learner readiness for online learning: Scale development and student perceptions. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1080–1090. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.05.004