An Investigation of Factors Influencing Learning of Psychomotor Skills in Distance Courses
This study investigates the factors influencing learning of psychomotor skills in distance courses. Psychomotor skills refer to learning that involves practical work, i.e. learning by doing. Research investigating the relationship between demographic factors and learning outcome has focused primarily on academic performance, which is generally related to the cognitive domain, with little emphasis devoted to exploring how this relationship impacts learning outcome on the psychomotor domain. The purpose of this study is to contribute to addressing this gap by exploring how factors of age, gender, employment status, marital status, frequency of tutorial attendance and geographical location affect learner ability to perform practical activities embedded in distance course modules. Knowing these factors will contribute to understanding potential barriers to practical skill learning among distance learners. The study targeted students of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) within Nigeria and the West Africa Subregion. A descriptive survey design and multi-stage stratified sampling technique was adopted to select 283 third-year undergraduate students for practical tasks. In addition, 43 copies of printed course materials from which the practical tasks were extracted, together with 43 subject specialists who assessed students’ performance, formed the sample for the study. Three instruments (demographic data questionnaire, practical performance test, and student performance assessment measure) were used to gather data. Data collected were subjected to appropriate descriptive and inferential statistical analyses. Findings revealed that age, gender, frequency of tutorial attendance and geographical location are the factors influencing student learning outcomes in the psychomotor domain. The implications of the findings on instructional design, course material development, counselling and support services are also highlighted.