ERIC Number: EJ1065508
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Traditional and Non-Traditional Students in the Same Classroom? Additional Challenges of the Distance Education Environment
Skopek, Tracy A.; Schuhmann, Robert A.
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, v11 n1 Spr 2008
The new reality of higher education contains a fundamental shift in student demographics. More non-traditional students are seeking educational opportunities and traditional students are seeking out and expecting alternative modes of curriculum delivery. Students, especially older, non-traditional ones seek course delivery through distance education formats such as online or videoconferencing that meet the needs of their lifestyle that includes career, family, and other responsibilities. As a result, universities are moving to meet the needs of this growing contingency of new atypical student populations. A study by Durant and Taggart (1985) found that an influx of mid-career students was perceived to have a detrimental affect on classroom learning by pre-career students. However this study was based on a survey of traditional classroom instruction. What then, if any, are the implications of the new mix of traditional and non-traditional students in the distance education classroom? Does the same chilling effect reported in the regular classroom also appear in the distance education classroom when the two student types converge? The authors explore this possible tension between traditional and non-traditional students in a distance education format. Understanding the possible dynamic between this mix of students is important as part of the new reality of curriculum offerings. They examine this potential dynamic with a survey of MPA students conducted over two years at the University of Wyoming. Based on the literature, this increasing mix of student types is regarded as beneficial for socialization and career development (see Carriuolu, 2002; Tschirhart and Wise, 2002). However, much of the literature on mixing traditional and non-traditional students focuses on the regular, on-campus classroom. The authors explore this concept in distance education and seek to determine whether a different classroom setting (i.e., distance education) creates a proprietary interest in the learning for non-traditional students. In addition, they explore whether this possible negative classroom dynamic can be minimized through the use of a blended or hybrid type of distance education program that includes both distance education and an element of in-person instruction.
Descriptors: Distance Education, Higher Education, Educational Environment, Nontraditional Students, Educational Opportunities, Electronic Learning, Videoconferencing, Life Style, Blended Learning, Student Surveys, College Students, Student Attitudes, Satisfaction, Socialization, Teacher Student Relationship
State University of West Georgia. 1601 Maple Street, Honors House, Carrollton, GA 30118. Tel: 678-839-5489; Fax: 678-839-0636; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wyoming
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A