A comparison of classroom and online asynchronous problem-based learning for students undertaking statistics training as part of a Public Health Masters degree
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AbstractThis case-study compared traditional, face-to-face classroom-based teaching with asynchronous online learning and teaching methods in two sets of students undertaking a problem-based learning module in the multilevel and exploratory factor analysis of longitudinal data as part of a Masters degree in Public Health at Maastricht University. Students were allocated to one of the two study variants on the basis of their enrolment status as full-time or part-time students. Full-time students (n = 11) followed the classroom-based variant and part-time students (n = 12) followed the online asynchronous variant which included video recorded lectures and a series of asynchronous online group or individual SPSS activities with synchronous tutor feedback. A validated student motivation questionnaire was administered to both groups of students at the start of the study and a second questionnaire was administered at the end of the module. This elicited data about student satisfaction with the module content, teaching and learning methods, and tutor feedback. The module coordinator and problem-based learning tutor were also interviewed about their experience of delivering the experimental online variant and asked to evaluate its success in relation to student attainment of the module’s learning outcomes. Student examination results were also compared between the two groups. Asynchronous online teaching and learning methods proved to be an acceptable alternative to classroom-based teaching for both students and staff. Educational outcomes were similar for both groups, but importantly, there was no evidence that the asynchronous online delivery of module content disadvantaged part-time students in comparison to their full-time counterparts.