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15 hours of e-learning can increase Functional Skills attainment by 9%

There is a 9% improvement in success rate for Functional Skills when learners use e-learning resources for 15 hours, a report from The University of Sunderland released a research report commissioned by ForSkills has found.

The report, entitled “The positive effects of using e-learning resources on the success rates and progression of learners in Functional Skills”, was conducted by Katie Martin BA (Hons), a graduate in social sciences from the University of Sunderland who found that there was a statistically significant relationship between the amount of time spent using e-learning resources and the student’s results in Functional Skills qualifications.

Data collected from seven different FE Colleges and Private Training Companies showed the attainment of just under 200 learners at the beginning and end of their Functional Skills course, as well as the number of e-learning hours they completed. 114 learners who hadn’t used e-learning resources were then compared against 63 learners who had.

In terms of the success rate of learners – passing the exams at the level they were entered for – the research shows that:

  • Taking the median e-learning use of 15 hours, the success rate improves from 83% amongst the group of students who recorded no e-learning use, to 92% – an increase of 9% over a period of eight months.
  • Where students used e-learning resources for over 20 hours, the success rate was 98% – a 15% increase.
  • Even 5 hours of e-learning increased the pass rate by 6%.

For the progression learners made (improving on the level they were working when they started the course):

  • 80% of the group that had used e-learning resources made progress compared to 47.2% for group who hadn’t.

The study proves that there is a clear link between the use of e-learning and both progression and success rates. e-learning provides a flexible approach and, for those learners who engage and embrace e-learning, this report shows a measurable and positive impact on outcomes.

Whilst a group of 1000 learners would be ideal to sift out anomalies, this report is the first of its kind to demonstrate statistically significant evidence for the success of using e-learning resources and can be built upon by further research.

Katie Martin BA (Hons) is a graduate in social sciences from the University of Sunderland. Commenting on her report, she said: “I have a particular interest in e-learning due to the potential it holds to level the playing field between higher and lower ability learners. For five years I worked as a teaching assistant at a secondary school in Hartlepool and whilst there, I witnessed pupils who wouldn’t even stay in lessons become engaged by e-learning resources. This helped them realise that you don’t have to be academic to succeed – I believe that everyone has something they’re good at and deserves a chance in life, and I have seen that e-learning has the potential to help with this. I also feel that technology has taken off in education and to get the best out of it, we need to understand it and make sure it’s being used in a way that genuinely improves student results.”

Jonathan Wells is director of ForSkills, which provides diagnostics and e-learning resources for English, maths and ICT Functional Skills

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