Designing Online Workshops: Using an Experiential Learning Model

By Lynch, Sherry K.; Kogan, Lori R. | Journal of College Counseling, Fall 2004 | Go to article overview
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Designing Online Workshops: Using an Experiential Learning Model


Lynch, Sherry K., Kogan, Lori R., Journal of College Counseling


This article describes 4 online workshops designed to assist college students with improving their time management, textbook reading, memory and concentration, and overall academic performance. These workshops were created to work equally well with imaginative, analytic, common-sense, and dynamic learners. Positive student feedback indicated that these workshops met students' perceived needs and expectations.

Computers have become an essential aspect of education. Because of the easy accessibility of computers and the high comfort and skill level most college students have with them, computers have become the first resource to which many students turn when seeking information. For these reasons, college counselors can use computers to efficiently and effectively provide information to many college students. This article describes four online study skills workshops: the rationale for their development, the Experiential Learning model theory used to design them, the application of this model to these workshops, the rate of usage, and the students' evaluation.

Use of computers has been integrated into higher education in many ways, including online instruction (Johnson, Aragon, Shaik, & Palma-Rivas, 2000; Richards & Ridley, 1997; Stoney & Oliver, 1998) and computer-assisted instruction (Mitra & Hutlett, 1997; Ouellette, 1999). In addition, health education programs (Carr, 2001; Dijkstra, De Vries, & Roijackers, 1999; Weerakoon, Stiernborg, & Wong, 1999) and counseling services (Sampson, Kolodinsky, & Greeno, 1997; Zalaquett & Sullivan, 1998) are also currently delivered via computers.

College counselors can assist students by integrating the use of resources for online study skills into their counseling practice. Although many students seek counseling for serious mental health concerns, they also frequently report academic difficulties. For example, one university counseling center found that the percentage of students who reported academic skills as a concern increased over a 13-year period (Benton, Robertson, Tseng, Newton, & Benton, 2003). Between 1988 and 1992, 8.5% of students reported study skills as a concern. This increased to 24.66% in the 1992 to 1996 period and increased again to 34.46% for the period from 1996 to 2001 (Benton et al., 2003). Computer resources can be used to help address students' academic concerns and free counselors to focus the counseling sessions on psychological issues. Providing counseling services via computers and the Internet is in its infancy because of ethical concerns about confidentiality and the adequacy of online intervention (Sampson et al., 1997). Zalaquett and Sullivan (1998) reported usage and evaluation data for self-help computer screens on topics including study skills, anxiety, and relaxation. Student evaluations suggested significant improvement in the users' knowledge of the topic presented on screen; 90% of these students found the screens easy to use and indicated that they would recommend them to other students (Zalaquett & Sullivan, 1998). Although Zalaquett and Sullivan's study obtained positive results from the use of information screens to impart information to students, the use of interactive study skills workshops as an adjunct to counseling has yet to be explored.

Rationale for Online Study Skills Workshops

Many college students have excelled in high school while exerting minimal effort. Some of these students are able to make the necessary adjustments in their study skills without assistance when they begin college; others seek assistance from Internet or campus resources.

Assistance with study skills is a service provided by many counseling centers. Many universities have made information about study skills available to students on the Internet; however, the information tends to be presented passively, not actively. Students can read and print out material but are not provided with the guidance necessary to become involved with the information and integrate it into their regular study routine.

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Designing Online Workshops: Using an Experiential Learning Model
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