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Journal Article

Managed Learning Environments and an Attendance Crisis?  pp1-10

Ruth Barrett, Austen Rainer, Olenka Marczyk

© Mar 2007 Volume 5 Issue 1, ECEL 2006, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp1 - 86

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Students who have the benefit of a Managed Learning Environment (MLE) are very appreciative of the facility to access lecture notes, practical and tutorial exercises and other learning resources. This access allows students to work independently and in many students' eyes, obviates the need to attend all timetabled sessions. Should the lecturers be worried about this? Blended learning, with its mixture of online and face‑to‑face activities, allows for students' different learning styles and for balancing external commitments. We report from a University in which the MLE, StudyNet, is extensively used on the majority of degree programmes and is regularly praised by the students. In this digital age the expectation of students is that all resources should be available electronically. However, a short survey identified a general unease among academics that these facilities adversely affect attendance and consequently student performance. Our broader study, at a mid‑point in an academic year, investigated relationships between attendance, performance in assessed coursework and students' preferred ways of working. We found that students rated the contact time very strongly but placed most emphasis on carrying out work for themselves. There was a mismatch between many students' perceptions of their use of the contact hours and the evidence from attendance records. Overall, our study sheds some light on the complex relationships between blended learning, student behaviour, attendance, and attainment.


Keywords: Blended learning, attendance, Managed Learning Environment


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