Motivation and learning strategies of students in distance education

Beth Ann Dunigan


Research on the motivation and learning strategies of students in distance education was conducted during the spring 2001 and summer 2002 semesters within BSC 305, Evolution. This research is based on the theory of self-regulated learning and utilized the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MLSQ) for measuring motivational and learning strategies. Data on motivation were collected at the beginning of the semester and data on the learning strategies were collected at the end of the semester. Scores from each subheading were correlated to the final grades. Additionally, qualitative data were collected throughout the summer 2002 semester to determine student learning strategies and if students changed their learning strategies during the semester. Three sets of email questions were distributed: one set at the beginning of the semester, one set at the middle of the semester, and the last set at the end of the semester. Additionally, a telephone interview was conducted at the end of the semester. The students involved in the qualitative section were asked to take the MSLQ at the beginning and end of the semester along with the remainder of the class. Quantitative findings indicate that the following subscales may predict achievement in online courses: elaboration, organization, critical thinking, and effort management. Curiously, organization was found to be a negative predictor in the quantitative component. Qualitative findings indicate that students need to organize their data. Findings also suggest that students require interaction from other students and people outside the class to feel successful.