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Good news for online study

Tuesday, 07 July 2020

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More than one million Australian university students moved to study online during COVID-19. But they can take heart – new Edith Cowan University (ECU) research has shown physically attending lectures doesn’t affect academic performance.

The study led by Dr Ross Hollett from the School of Arts and Humanities, involved 288 undergraduate students from two Australian universities who completed pre-semester motivational measurements and post-semester estimates of lecture attendance. Student grades were also examined.

The research found that physically attending lectures is not critical for performing well academically, despite earlier research suggesting this was the case.

“Our research suggests that students who are motivated can perform just as well using online resources as those attending lectures,” Dr Hollett said.

“This will be welcome news for students who study online for a variety of reasons such as balancing work arrangements, family responsibilities, if they live in remote locations or simply because it’s a preferred learning style.”

Dr Hollett said while lecture attendance didn’t significantly correlate with grades, that did not mean there weren’t other considerable benefits to studying on campus.

“There are many benefits to attending campus, such as accessing facilities and resources and being part of campus culture, which can enhance a sense of belonging,” he said.

“A strong sense of belonging to a learning community is linked with greater confidence, enthusiasm and wellbeing.”

Dr Hollett’s paper Explaining lecture attendance behaviour via structural equation modelling: Self-Determination Theory and Theory of Planned Behaviour is published in the journal of Learning and Individual Differences.

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