When Students Can Choose: Online Self-Study or In-College Learning of English for Academic Purposes

Devora Hellerstein, Tina Waldman, Hanne Juel Solomon, Michal Arnon

Abstract


This study aimed to better understand what motivations drive students to select a self-study massive open online course (MOOC) or an in-college course with an instructor. The students were enrolled in one of three level courses of English for Academic Purposes (EAP), which was an accredited course required for the completion of their Bachelor's Degree, at three teacher education colleges in Israel. The study applied a mainly quantitative data collection method, with a qualitative component. The researchers distributed a survey to 236 students studying in one of the two conditions. They compared survey results between the two groups to examine student background, motivations, and perceptions in relation to choice of preferred learning style. Findings indicated that demographic factors had little effect on the students’ choice. In terms of student motivations, while some differences were found between the two groups in learning preferences, the greatest motivations for selecting a MOOC were extrinsic, with more students driven by financial and time constraints rather than a preference for autonomous learning. The perceptions of students who chose a MOOC indicated low learner readiness to study independently and, as such, a higher risk of not passing the required course. Despite claims that MOOCs represent the democratization of education – providing access to all, regardless of age, gender, financial resources, or other barriers, our findings reveal inequality between students learning English for Academic Purposes in higher education based primarily on financial resources.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v10n2p25

World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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