This study reports on the findings from a three-year investigation of student teachers' electronic course participation, course performance, and the possible applications to course revision. The aim of the study was to examine questions about how students in the College of Education and College of Arts use the web-based course management system (Moodle), with particular interest in the associations between information accessed via Moodle and course marks. This study had four broad objectives: (i) to describe levels of on-line course participation across activities and resources provided on Moodle in a large first-year undergraduate course with three distinct enrolment cohorts; (ii) to compare levels of on-line course participation across student cohorts, including enrolment status (i.e. BA or BTchLn/campus or distance), gender, ethnicity, and age; (iii) to examine the extent to which specific components of on-line course participation are associated with course marks; and (iv) to discuss the relevance of on-line course participation as a measure of course engagement and a tool for aiding course revision.
Students were recruited to participate in this study over the last three years (2010, 2011, and 2012) from a large first year child and adolescent development course (300-400 students) at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Data analysis across all three years shows that many aspects of web-based course participation are significantly associated with course performance. Bivariate analyses showed that the grade differences between students who accessed less than 25% of course resources compared with those who accessed greater than 75% of course resources differed by an entire grade (e.g., C to B) to a grade and a third (C to B+). In addition, there were consistent differences across student cohorts, and associations with individual characteristics such as age. Multiple regression analyses showed that accessing lecture outlines and downloading lecture recordings were the most consistent significant predictors of course performance. The results are discussed from the perspective of the utility of the web-based course management system as a tool for course revision, and in light of changes to course participation due to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2011.