Inspired by the difference between the findings of Wong (2008) and many other\ud previous findings, the researcher adopted Creswell’s (2009) sequential explanatory\ud design of mixed methods, in which a quantitative phase was followed by a qualitative\ud phase, to explore the factors which influence the learning effectiveness of the students\ud taking an on-line introductory information technology course in a higher education\ud institution in Hong Kong. Since the students using on-line education mainly learn by\ud themselves through reading the on-line materials and discussing in the on-line\ud discussion forums, the researcher was interested in exploring whether and how students’\ud on-line learning performance is influenced by the three variables related to students’\ud proficiency in English, the medium of instruction in Hong Kong higher education, for\ud self-learning and discussion in on-line education system, namely (1) student’s English\ud proficiency, (2) instructor’s guidance in on-line discussion forum and (3) peer students’\ud collaboration in on-line discussion forum. In the first quantitative phase, correlation and\ud multiple regression analyses were used in an analytical survey to examine the\ud relationship between these three variables and students’ learning performance as\ud reflected by their test scores and explore how these variables interact. As a follow-up to\ud have a better understanding of the quantitative findings, twenty-four participants were\ud interviewed in the second qualitative phase. Interview transcripts were analysed by\ud different coders and their findings were used in triangulating with quantitative results,\ud together with inter-coder reliability testing and member checking in order to ensure the\ud validity and reliability of the study. The results of both phases revealed these three\ud variables have effect on students’ on-line learning, with students’ English proficiency\ud being the most influential. These results were supported by students’ perception and\ud used to relate to suggestions for on-line education improvements
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