Research Question 1

Do online graduate students who participate in a structured study buddy activity tend to use deep approaches in their learning?

PASW Statistics ™ was used to compare the means of participants and non-participants with respect to their reported approach to learning scores. The R-SPQ-2F (Biggs et al., 2001) contains 20 Likert scale items that can be used to gauge whether students take a deep or a surface approach to their learning. In addition to the two main scales measuring deep and surface approaches, the survey contains four subscales measuring deep motives, deep strategies, surface motives, and surface strategies. The results can be calculated according to the subscales and/or the scales. Results of the independent samples t-test are shown in Table 7.

Table 7

Given the high significance values (p) in Table 7, it is very unlikely that any differences between the participants and non-participants on either the main scales or the sub-scales were due to anything other than chance. The hypothesis that students who participated in the study buddy activity would take deeper approaches to learning was not supported at the 0.05 level and therefore was rejected.

Furthermore, the fact that the mean score of the deep approach scale approached but did not exceed 40 for either the participants (37.8) or non-participants (36.3) group indicates that there may be room for improvement in encouraging deeper approaches. It is, however, encouraging that surface approach scores did not exceed 20. These results should be considered tentatively in the absence of any published norms and the small sample size.