Getting connected : external early childhood teacher education students' study experiences

Heirdsfield, Ann M., Davis, Julie M., & Lennox, Sandra P. (2007) Getting connected : external early childhood teacher education students' study experiences. In 8th Annual Conference of Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association : Rethinking Early Childhood Education, 4-7 July 2007, Hong Kong.


Experiences of isolation and absence of face-to-face contact between students, their peers and their teachers are commonly reported as being challenging characteristics of external study (off-campus learning) (Kramarae, 2001; Reisetter & Boris, 2004). Smith (2004) contends that there is a need for external study educators to monitor the quality of courses within universities by seeking students’ perceptions of the support they receive. Hence, this study sought to learn about students who enrol in external study in the School of Early Childhood at the Queensland University of Technology. The purposes were to, first, investigate students’ knowledge of support systems available to them; second to identify which support services were the most valuable; and, finally, to explore students’ perceptions of how satisfied they were with support systems they had utilised in the course of their study. The overall objective of was to inform decision-making related to the co-ordination and teaching of courses within the School of Early Childhood, and therefore, to enhance distance education students’ learning experiences. An online survey was conducted to investigate students’ perceptions. Analysis indicated that students were generally satisfied with their off-campus experiences. However, some issues were raised. These included the need for consistency and improved usability of online learning and teaching web sites (used extensively in our courses), concerns about feelings of isolation and, in some cases, poor communication from subject coordinators. Although there is a multitude of support services offered by the university, many students were not aware that these existed. Therefore, there needs to be much better mechanisms for informing students about the wide range of services that they are able to access. Most importantly, this study highlighted issues of communication and social connectedness for external students—between student and teacher, and between student and student. As a result, we have developed some new (internet-based) resources to assist.

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ID Code: 11103
Item Type: Conference Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Refereed: No
Additional Information: For more information, please contact the author.
Keywords: Early childhood Teacher education, Online learning Distance education External students, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 05 Dec 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2014 04:56

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