A comparison of course completion, satisfaction, achievement, and performance among non-profit professionals who complete andragogical or pedagogical online learning modules on grant writing

Joe Bernard Bradley Jr.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare the outcomes among staff members of nonprofit social service agencies who participated in or completed an andragogically-facilitated or a pedagogically-conducted online learning module on foundation grant writing. The efficacy of andragogical methods is unknown and often debated due to scarce empirical research on the topic. Though most prior empirical studies revealed no significant differences in outcomes between the two methods, this is the first study of its kind to address each of the assumptions of andragogy in an online non-formal learning environment. Effectiveness was measured based on participants' self-reported reaction to learning (course evaluation instrument), program completion rates, achievement growth (level of evaluative skill) and grant writing performance scores as a function of learning group. Two open-ended response items were also included within the course evaluation instrument to add narrative depth to the empirical results via triangulation. Fifty-two volunteer staff members of nonprofit agencies in a Southeastern state who expressed interest in participating were randomly assigned to one of two online learning modules, resulting in at least partial data on 33 participants including 16 subjects who received an andragogical learning module and 17 subjects who received a pedagogical learning module. Among 33 participants, 28 were also completers including 14 subjects who received an andragogical learning module and 14 subjects who received a pedagogical learning module. Among both participants and completers, one-way ANOVAs revealed there were no statistically significant differences as a function of learning group between each of three dependant variables: reaction to learning (course evaluation ratings), achievement growth (level of evaluative skill), and grant writing performance scores. Similarly, a chi square test of independence revealed that program completion rates did not differ significantly as a function of learning group. As such, the primary implication is that andragogical learning methods as facilitated in the current study were just as effective as pedagogical methods in online non-formal grant writing modules with respect to the aforementioned variables. Among completers, a significant positive correlation was also found between grant writing performance scores and participants' experience writing funded grants over the last five years. Qualitative results among participants indicated that 15 of 16 subjects (93.75%) in the andragogical module and 11 of 15 subjects (73.33%) in the pedagogical module who responded to the first open-ended question, stated affirmatively their enjoyment of learning from the experiences of others while participating in non-formal non-credit learning opportunities. In addition, 13 of 14 subjects (92.86%) in the andragogical module and 14 of 16 (87.50%) in the pedagogical module who responded to the second open-ended question stated affirmatively that by participating in the online course they were more likely to pursue future educational opportunities of a similar nature. These qualitative differences, in conjunction with the clearly more favorable aggregated mean course evaluation ratings among participants in the andragogical module as compared to the pedagogical module, supported the finding of higher overall learner satisfaction levels among participants in the andragogical module.