WOU emerged victorious to grab the gold medal in the Best Paper Award at the 34th Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) Annual Conference held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 1-3 June 2021.
The hybrid event themed ‘Opening minds for a Sustainable Future: Re-orienting ODL to surmount challenges’ was hosted by the Open University of Sri Lanka and attracted distance learning (ODL) experts from AAOU’s 61 member countries.
The winning paper titled ‘Relationship between Learning Strategies and Academic Performance: A Comparison between APEL and Regular Entry Undergraduates’ was presented virtually by School of Education, Humanities & Social Sciences (SEHS) senior lecturer Dr Tan Saw Fen. Her research team members were Prof Dr Anna Christina Abdullah, senior lecturer Sean Ooi Li Hsien, lecturer Arathai Din Eak and Assistant Lecturer Thoolasi Kanesin of SEHS. The study was funded with a RM26,933 grant from WOU’s Centre for Research and Innovation (CeRI) and took a year to complete, i.e. from 1 May 2019 to 30 April 2020.
The research presented involved 700 undergraduates, starting from their enrolment in the January 2016 intake up to the January 2019 semester. They comprised 290 APEL entrants and 410 regular entrants. In APEL, the formal/informal training and the prior work experience of the learner are considered for admission purpose.
The academic performance (CGPA) and types of learning strategies (data gathered from online survey) of APEL and regular entrants were compared. The research found that the regular entrants performed slightly better than APEL entry students, while there was no significant difference between the types of learning strategies used by them.
The higher academic performing students from both categories were students who were able to exercise a proper management of time, study environment and academic tasks.
One implication of the research is the need for universities to train and enhance the time management skills of students when they first embark on their degree, so as to help them perform better in their studies. Another take-away is the need to have a few in-person sessions for the students to meet with tutors and peers since this will foster closer relations and inspire peer-to-peer learning.