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Zainab Al-Shidhani (61525)

Zahra Al-Hoqani (66945)

Summary of Research in Distance Education

“Surface and deep learning processes in

distance education: Synchronous versus
asynchronous systems”
This research paper based on Oliver and McLaughlin model of teacher-student interaction. This model
suggests that there are five types of teacher student interaction. These types are: social, procedural,
expository, explanatory and cognitive. This study refers to the cognitive type of interaction in this model
and differentiates between surface processes and deep processes. As it is stated in the research, the
purpose of this paper was to examine the influences of different variables on students’ achievements and
their satisfaction from learning via a synchronous versus an asynchronous distance learning system. At
first, the researcher hypnotized that learning materials assimilation is expected from learners taught via
synchronous distance education model more that those who are taught via asynchronous method because
of the interaction limitation in the second method. Also, students with high cognitive ability are more
capable to perform deep learning processing without interaction support because they are more capable to
learn autonomously and to think critically. Therefore, learners with high cognitive ability are more likely
to succeed in the asynchronous systems than those in the opposite side. The study applied some
measurements to examine the influence of the variable in students’ achievement. These measurement
were: personality test (to examine the differences between students with a high and low-level of thinking),
Abstract verbal thinking ability test, observations (in the classroom to evaluate students’ tendency to
maintain interpersonal relations. It was done through the entire course period) and interviews (to collect
information that could help investigators understand deeply students’ attitudes and preferences during the
learning process. The study was executed on 160 students who participated in the “introduction to
computer” course which was delivered via the internet. About 50 students dropped during the study
period, 90 took the final exam. Only 59 of those met the criteria set to meet the study validity. Some
immigrant students with disabilities and some who didn’t answer the whole question were excluded.

The result of this research showed that all students (students of low/high level of cognitive abilities)
prefer teacher to be present in the learning environment. This is not because they need to ask him for a
help but they need it as a factor that maintain the learning tension among students with high thinking
ability. They also need the teacher as a figure of maturation and authority who is able to guide, encourage
and support during the process of learning. Therefore, the interaction level between the different parties in
the learning environment found to be significant in determining the effectiveness of the teaching method.
Also, found that “synchronous learning is more effective among students with high cognitive ability than
among those with a low cognitive ability”.

This interaction is necessary to enable students to raise question and make dialogues which are very
essential in the deep learning process. Also, they are very important for students’ motivation,
concentration in the learning and evaluation of their mastery of learning materials.
Zainab Al-Shidhani (61525)
Zahra Al-Hoqani (66945)


Offir, Lev, Bezalel, 2006 B Offir, Y.Lev, R.Bezalel , Surface and deep learning processes in distance
education: Synchronous versus asynchronous systems, journal of computers and education (2008),