Educational productivity of an open learning environment within the vocational education and training sector in Western Australia.
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Rapid reform in the vocational education and training sector within Australia has driven the need for a more flexible approach to the delivery of education and training. One facet of such flexibility is Open Learning. Currently there is little research on Open Learning within the training sector on which planning decisions can be based.A model of educational productivity (Walberg,1981) has been proposed in the research literature to investigate relationships between key factors such a student antecedents, learning environments and learning outcomes. The Walberg model has been employed in this current study to explore how these factors may be studied in an Open Learning environment and a more Traditional Learning environment within the vocational education and training sector. The research design is a comparative description, utilising techniques from both quantitative and qualitative paradigms.A major aspect of this current study has been to investigate the constructs proposed by Walberg's Productivity Model and source appropriate instruments to measure these constructs. Where the appropriate instruments were not available, a process of instrument development and validation was conducted.The research has identified Walberg's model as being a valid frame of reference within the Vocational Education and Training sector. As expected, significant differences between the Open Learning environment and the Traditional Learning environment were apparent for the measures of Classroom Environment. Of interest, however, was that the productivity factor of Quantity, for students studying in both learning environments, was shown to have a negative relationship with achievement. While small differences were apparent for other factors, generally, the relationship between productivity factors and educational achievement was seen to be similar for both the Open Learning and the Traditional Learning environments.The findings of the study should be of significance to a range of people involved in the Open Learning environment, including decision makers in the areas of educational policy, curriculum design and implementation, administration and teaching.
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