Timing Matters: Approaches for Measuring and Visualizing Behaviours of Timing and Spacing of Work in Self-Paced Online Teacher Professional Development Courses

Jeremy Riel
Kimberly A. Lawless
Scott W. Brown


One feature of self-paced online courses is greater learner control over the timing of their work in a course. However, the greater timing flexibility that learners enjoy in such environments may play a different role in the learning process than has been previously observed in formal online or face-to-face courses. As such, the study of work timing merits further investigation. Toward this goal, this study forwards two measures that represent the timing of coursework: 1) the timing index, or the degree to which a participant completes 50% of their work, and 2) the spacing count, the frequency of work performed across the course timeframe. In this study, the authors demonstrate the use of these measures from a data set of 42 U.S. middle-school teachers who participated in a self-paced, online professional development course to support teacher implementation of a new blended-learning curriculum. Using the two measures, the authors identify timing behaviours of participants and examine the effects that timing has on teacher self-efficacy after completing the course. The two measures and visualizations demonstrated in this paper yield useful individual-level variables for course timing that can be used for further study on the effects on learning outcomes.


Timing; participation; engagement; repetition; online learning; distance education; informal learning; self-paced learning; professional development; procrastination; spacing effect.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18608/jla.2018.51.3


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