Enhancing the effectiveness of online tutorials for economics education's final assignment to improve student mastery

Suripto, Sri Sumiyati and Durri Andriani
Universitas Terbuka

Indonesia


Universitas Terbuka (UT) provides online tutorials for the final project course (FPC) in the economics education programme (EEP) to improve the learning quality of its students who have almost completed the programme. The materials for the tutorials are parts of those written for the modules. This study was conducted to identify the barriers to student participation in the FPC's tutorials, and to evaluate the relationship between student activities in the FPC and their mastery of the materials as reflected in their final scores. The results from this research are expected to enrich learning theory, especially with regard to the provision of learning support in distance education systems. The subjects for this project were 38 out of 41 registered students in the FPC's tutorials in the first semester of 2013, and the study used documentary evidence and a survey. In general, the factors that support student engagement in the FPC's tutorials are easy access to computers and the Internet, and familiarity with them; understanding the benefits of technology in the learning process; and the ability, and willingness, to implement self-study. The respondents noted barriers associated with their limited activities in the FPC's tutorials which included limited access to the Internet; a low perception of the roles of media in the learning process; and limited time, as well as limited ability to operate computers and the Internet. Statistically, only the quality of the assignment uploaded had a relatively high correlation with the final scores (P=0.76). Other correlations fall below 0.50 in Pearson's correlation score for example, the correlations between the students' final scores and the number of days they logged in, opened the initial materials, and the quality of discussions were 0.36, 0.47 and 0.44 respectively; and the correlation between the materials looked at and the number and quality of discussions engaged in were 0.47 and 0.44. Based on these findings, it is recommended that some discussions should be replaced by an assignment; and that easy access to computers and the Internet should be provided and students familiarized with their use. In addition, it is suggested that there should be increased congruence between the materials in the modules and the topics discussed in the tutorials.