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It is important to determine the effectiveness of the new methods of delivery and periodicallycompare them to traditional campus classroom instruction. Swan and Jackman (2000) discussed Souder’s 1993 comparison of distance learners with traditional learners, stating that the distancelearning students“performed better than the host-site learners in several areas or fields of study, including exams and homeworkassignments”(p. 59). Citing the limited number of studies comparing different methods of instruction in higher education,Swan and Jackson looked at remote-site and home-site students at the secondary school level. They found no significant differencesin student achievement between the two sites when comparing grade point averages.

Methodology

In 2002, educational leadership students in our school finance class and school principalship classes at BallState University were surveyed (Sharp&Cox, 2003). Of these students, 12 in the finance class were in a studio classroom, with89 taking the course on television at 42 off-campus sites around the state of Indiana. In the principalship course, 25 students werein the studio and 60 were at 22 remote television sites. In 2004, when one of the professors had moved to the University of SouthCarolina, we again surveyed our distance learning classes. This time, we had 75 students in the school finance television class andseven in the studio class at Ball State. At South Carolina, we had 64 in the televised sections of school law and leadership theoryand 35 students in the studio sections of those courses. The purpose of the identical surveys in both years was to see if therewere differing points of view regarding the questioning format, attendance, and assessment procedures between the studio groups andthe groups at the remote sites and whether there were any changes in opinion between the survey conducted in 2002 and the one done in2004. We also wanted to collect data regarding any technological problems and information about the students themselves and theirbackgrounds.

The survey for the research study was added to an evaluation form so that all students would complete thesurvey. The results were not given to us until after final grades were submitted.Proctors at the remote sites distributed surveys to the students to complete onsite and then mailed them back to theoffice for scoring. Thus, every student in attendance completed a survey. The research questions addressed in the study were asfollows: (a) What was the prior experience with television classes?, (b) How did students accept the practice of not beingable to ask questions anytime they wished?, (c) Did students feel that attendance should be taken in these large classes?, (d) Didthe students like the testing method used for them?, and (e) Were there major technological problems?.

Results and Discussion

Distance learning has become more popular with students in general and with educational leadership studentsin particular. We wanted to see if this was true with our students, and we wanted to see to what extent they had prior experience withtelevision classes. Also, it is possible that the attitude of the on-campus students towards the off-campus arrangements (taking timefor attendance, discussing technological problems, etc.) could be affected if they had also utilized these off-campus classes in thepast. We also wanted to know the experience that the educational leadership students had previously had with television classes tosee how popular this format was for educational leadership students (see Table 1).

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Source:  OpenStax, Mentorship for teacher leaders. OpenStax CNX. Dec 22, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10622/1.3
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