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Determinants of Learners’ Core Skills Development and Employment During Covid-19 Online Learning: Perspectives of Adult Educators in Singapore
conference contributionposted on 25.03.2022, 08:58 by Zan Chen, David Kwok
The onset of Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected learning institutions and training organisations globally as they transition to online learning. While there is a plethora of research during Covid-19 focusing on determinants of learner satisfaction with online learning during the pandemic, there are limited studies that examine long-term impacts of online learning, teaching and assessments (LTA) on core skills development and employment. Aims of Study This study aimed to investigate adult educators’ perceptions of how the four online LTA factors (i.e. learner engagement, learner well-being, assessments, and confidence of adult educators about online learning) predict learners’ core skills development and employment, and whether significant differences exist among the factors between adult educators from the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and Training Providers (TPs).
The following research questions guided the data analysis in this study: 1. To what extent do the three LTA factors (i.e. learner engagement, learner well-being and assessments) predict learners’ core skills development and employment during Covid-19 pandemic? 2. To what extent does confidence of adult educators about online learning predict learners’ core skills development and employment above and beyond what is already explained by the other three LTA factors? 3. Are there any significant differences in the LTA factors between adult educators from IHLs and TPs?
Sample Data were collected using an online survey administered during the lockdown period from 28th May – 15th June 2020. A total sample of 1,553 adult educators responded to the online survey. We have retained 1,294 usable responses for the data analysis, comprising 474 (36.6%) from the IHLs and 820 (63.4%) from TPs. 709 (54.8%) were males and 585 (45.2%) were females. About 60% were in the 36-55 years old category and another 20% were older than 55.
The results indicated that the four LTA factors (i.e. learner engagement, learner well-being, assessments, and confidence of adult educators about online learning) are positively and significantly correlated with learners’ core skills development and employment (0.31 ≤ p ≤ 0.61, p<.01). Controlling for demographic variables, hierarchical regression results show that adult educators’ perceptions of the impact of online learning on assessments is the strongest significant predictor of learners’ core skills development and employment, followed by learner engagement and confidence of adult educators about online learning. Overall, the model accounted for 48.7% of the variance in the learners’ core skills development and employment, and confidence of adult educators about online learning contributed 2.9% of this variance. Independent sample t-test revealed that although mean rating of adult educators’ perceptions of online learning on learner well-being for IHLs is significantly higher than TPs, mean ratings of assessments and learner engagement for TPs are significantly higher than IHLs. No significant difference between IHLs and TPs was found for confidence of adult educators about online learning.
This transition to online LTA may not only be a temporary response to the pandemic but could also lead to a shift to the permanent digitalisation of higher education and adult training. Therefore, it is critical that educational institutions and educators should think how they could engage and assess learners effectively online to support the long-term development of core skills and employment. It also shows that increasing educators’ confidence in conducting LTA online through continuing professional development would contribute to the long-term learning outcomes. The study provides useful insights for policy makers and adult educators in the higher education and adult training communities on the importance of LTA factors to develop effective online learning during the pandemic that could have long-term impact on adult learners in their core skills development and employment prospects.