Student and tutor perceptions of computer assisted learning in clinical and health studies
This research focused on tutors and first and third year cohorts of undergraduate students within a department of clinical and health studies. The aims of the study were to explore tutor and student perceptions of the advantages of, and barriers to, computer-assisted learning (CAL) and perceived influence of CAL on reflection and reasoning skills. Two questionnaires were developed, to survey the two populations of participants, involving 197 students and 31 tutors. Illuminative follow-up semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 23 students and 13 tutors. The questionnaire datasets were analysed descriptively, and inferentially using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney procedure, to test for differences between age groups, gender and year of training The interview transcripts were thematically analysed and inductively coded. Member checking by transcript checking, and by discussion of emergent themes by four participant focus groups was undertaken. The student and tutor questionnaires and interviews resulted in common perceived advantages of CAL. These included a perception of CAL as an adjunct or support tool rather than a primary approach to teaching and learning. CAL was seen as a tool for improving work presentation, facilitating communication, enabling formative assessment, helping organise notes and as an information source. It was also perceived as giving flexibility to learning in any place, at any pace and any time. CAL was seen as able to save time, and induce positive emotions when things went well. Common barriers to CAL were lack of time to develop or use CAL and time wastage, limited computer literacy/skill level, negative emotions, inadequate training and support, access issues, cost and lack of portability. Loss of face-to-face contact with CAL was also a barrier to its use. CAL was not the preferred means of engendering reflection and reasoning skills. Emergent theory was identified and the study concludes with recommendations on training and support.