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Module A ButtonTopic A2.3: Your Student Audience

Analysis of Learner Characteristics
In order to effectively analyze learner characteristics, thereby getting to know your student audience, you need to gather the following information:

1. General Characteristics of the Target Audience (demographics)
You’ve read about the general characteristics of online students in this station, and now you need to collect demographic information from your students. Here is a sample survey instrument used to collect demographic information from online students. Use it as is or modify it to suit your needs. Please note that this link is to a document created in Microsoft Word.

Help Button Are you not sure how to download, save and return the completed survey?


2. Technological Knowledge and Skills
One of the simplest ways to assess the technological skill level of your student audience is through a survey, either before a course begins or during the first week of the course. This information may be extremely helpful in knowing whether or not time has to be spent on technology issues, over and above course content. Download this sample survey in Microsoft® Word®, and complete it as a student participating in these workstations. Complete the survey, and send it as an email attachment to with “A2 Technology Survey” in the subject line. Completing this activity will help us with our analysis of the “student” audience for these stations.

3. Learning Styles
Do face-to-face and on-line teaching require different approaches to addressing different learning styles? If so, how? The three main learning styles are: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile. Visual learners make up about 65% of the population. Auditory learners make up about 30% of the population. Kinesthetic learners make up about 5% of the population. Despite preferences, most people rely on a combination of learning styles (McMahon, 2000).

Follow this link to the Maryland Faculty Fellows Training Curriculum Template. There you will find a multitude of resources addressing learning styles. One is the Faculty Online Technology Training Consortium (FOTTC) presentation by Joan McMahon, Towson University that you should review. This presentation is done in Microsoft PowerPoint®, so if you have questions regarding view PowerPoint documents online refer to the help link above.


Learning Activity I
Here is a link to an online Learning Styles Questionnaire you can use with your students. Follow this link and complete the questionnaire to help you identify your learning style. This is an online survey so you will not need to download or e-mail the results.


4. Academic Motivation
Finding out your students’ motivation for taking your course and what they hope to gain from the course is part of your student analysis. One popular way to gather this information is in the form of an entrance essay. Some questions you might want answered in this essay are:

  • Why did you take this course?
  • What grade do you want to earn in this course?
  • What help do you need from me (the instructor) to complete this course?
  • How do you envision using what you learn in this course?


5. Audience’s Prior Knowledge of the Topic
One way to find out about your students’ prior knowledge of the topic is to simply ask. Have your students submit a writing sample that relays what they know, or think they know, about the subject. Another method of assessing prior knowledge is a pretest. The Sociology professors at Anne Arundel Community College distribute a 75 item objective test on the core concepts of the Introduction to Sociology course to all students enrolled in the course prior to the first day of class. Analysis can determine, to some degree, students’ prior knowledge of course concepts. As a follow-up, they distribute the same test as a posttest. The data is analyzed to show a measurement of learning throughout the course.


Learning Activity II
In this station, you have learned some different methods of acquiring information that will help you with an analysis of your student audience. Now we ask you to share an activity you’ve used, a question you find effective, or a web site that helps with learner assessment. Post your contribution to the Student Audience forum for others to review, and see what others have posted there that might be helpful to you.


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