The presentation reports some the findings from an action research project in an online foundational course over a period of 2 years to enhance student engagement and satisfaction. The course, Tertiary Learning Strategies, was offered by the University of South Australia to students enrolled in Open Universities Australia (OUA), an online higher education organisation in Australia currently owned by seven universities and serviced by 15 universities across Australia. Tertiary Learning Strategies was designed to prepare students for their tertiary education and online learning experience, and was offered over 4 study periods per year with 13 weeks each period. This project followed the action research model suggested by McNiff and Whitehead (2005) in five stages including a) identifying problem areas, b) developing an action plan, c) implementing the action plan, d) observing, gathering and interpreting data, and e) reflecting on the results. At the end of the action research cycle, the course has received an award from OUA for encouraging excellence in the engagement of students studying online and it was ranked in OUA’s Top Performing Courses based on student satisfaction. Findings from this action research re-emphasise the importance of individualised delivery of the course content and human connection in promoting student engagement and satisfaction. Nevertheless, the findings also indicate some challenges that call for further action research in the future.
Marie Abi Abdallah, University of South Australia, Australia