Student Responses to the Use of WebCT in a Financial Accounting Course
By Lisa Church
This paper discusses the effectiveness of using WebCT in a
financial accounting course. Discussion includes results of an anonymous student
survey indicating to what extent WebCT contributed to student learning in the
course as well as students’ overall impressions of WebCT.
WebCT is an internet-based program with options allowing an instructor to customize
a particular course while providing a uniform and integrated campus community
structure. Students logon to the designated RIC website to find useful course
information, assignments to complete, and links to relevant Internet sites.
I use WebCT in an introductory financial accounting course to supplement the
traditional classroom format by administering student quizzes, enhancing communication
through WebCT mail and calendar features, and for administrative ease by posting
the syllabus and selected homework problem solutions. I am very pleased with the
capabilities the WebCT features have provided to my course, but I was interested
in knowing how my students felt about this web-based learning tool. This past
spring I asked two sections of the course to complete an anonymous student survey
I use WebCT to create and administer computerized, multiple-choice quizzes.
For a small percentage of their course grade students take a chapter quiz within
a designated time frame using their text and notes. While quizzes generally are
a great pedagogical tool, WebCT quizzes offer some unique advantages.
I use the WebCT option that allows students to submit the quiz upon completion
and immediately receive the quiz score and correct answers with explanations,
providing instantaneous feedback on the quiz. I can review student scores overall
as well as by question to quickly see if there are topic areas that should be
covered more thoroughly before continuing in the course.
A strong benefit of using WebCT quizzes is that students gain experience taking
computerized examinations, which are a very common format today. A student that
has only had the traditional paper and pencil examinations is at a serious disadvantage
upon embarking on a computerized exam. The WebCT quiz can be used to expose students
to computerized testing in a less stressful environment.
Responding to the anonymous survey 37.5% of the students said that the quizzes
contributed a great deal to their learning, 42.5% said that the quizzes contributed
quite a bit, and 15% thought the quizzes were somewhat helpful.
The following are student comments regarding the quizzes:
The WebCT [quiz] is hard but it helps and forces you to learn the material.
I think WebCT helps students understand the course better and it is fun
to do quizzes on the PC rather than in class.
WebCT … makes test taking more versatile and interesting.
I really enjoyed having the WebCT Quizzes.
I liked using the WebCT. It takes off a lot of pressure during quizzes because
there is no worrying about time.
I felt the quizzes on the WebCT offered great practice for this course,
especially when it came time for a test. Overall, I think the WebCT is a great
tool for students to use and to have on hand for a course.
I found the WebCT very useful for reviewing the information in the book.
I used the quizzes as a review for the tests and found I was able to identify
my weaknesses in the quiz before taking the exam.
I think that WebCT is very helpful in this course. It was much more convenient
and I learned more from the WebCT quizzes than classroom quizzes in other courses.
I recommend WebCT for all other courses; it was very helpful.
I was pleased with the general enthusiasm students expressed regarding WebCT
quizzes, but not all students were pleased with the quizzes. My quizzes are open
book and not timed, allowing for quiz questions which are purposely difficult
and require students to carefully think through to the answer. Some students do
not perform well on these WebCT quizzes, as this student comments:
I disliked the WebCT quizzes because of the way some of the questions were
worded but also because they did not help me to learn that much. They mostly hurt
my grade. I had an A on the in class tests and not too good of a grade on the
quizzes. I do not think they show your knowledge of the class.
Though the student was not pleased with his or her quiz scores, I truly believe
that the high exam grade was a direct result of making the mistake on the quiz
and the learning process occurring prior to the examination. I have had students
appear to know the material yet perform poorly on an exam before I used WebCT.
Quizzes provide a great evaluation tool that helps the student and instructor
to catch misguided confidence early on, to discuss and learn from the error, resulting
in a better exam grade, although this particular student did not see it that way.
Most students maintain personal e-mail accounts, so initially I did not see
a purpose to using the WebCT mail system. WebCT mail is an internal e-mail system
within the Internet-based course that allows the instructor and students to communicate
with written messages that appear on the course homepage; messages can be sent
to one student only or the entire group. I quickly discovered that advantages
to WebCT mail include that I don’t have to worry about a cancelled or changed
personal e-mail address, shared personal e-mail accounts where someone else is
deleting the student’s messages are not a problem (a true story), and it
resolves the matter of the unfortunate student who does not maintain a personal
e-mail account. WebCT mail messages are conveniently stored within the course
website, rather than being disbursed among the daily messages that arrive in regular
e-mail. WebCT mail allows students to communicate with each other about the course,
if they so choose, without disclosing the privacy of a student’s personal
I use WebCT mail to remind students of announcements made in class and to converse
with a student outside of the classroom. Many times a quiet student will be quite
interactive using WebCT mail – and the enhanced communication often appears
to make the student more comfortable in the classroom. Surprisingly 97.5% of the
students found WebCT mail to be useful for the course.
The WebCT calendar feature is a electronic calendar showing each month with
entries that I use to remind students about examination dates, course deadlines,
add and drop deadlines, and RIC holidays. Ninety percent of the students checked
the calendar entries regularly and 80% stated that the calendar feature was useful
for the course.
Students may make their own entries on the calendar, with the option of sharing
the entries with the class or keeping them private for the student’s viewing
only. A very convenient and flexible tool, one young woman commented that the
WebCT calendar was so helpful that she had hoped to continue using it after our
I was initially concerned that some students would lack the necessary computer
skills to use WebCT, but this has never been a problem. While 15% rated their
computer skills as fair or not good, 98% indicated that it was easy to access
WebCT and navigate the site. Fifteen percent of students checked the website every
day, 17.5% checked it several times a week, 45% once a week, and 22.5% checked
it every other week, offering great potential for enhanced course communication
Most students maintain schedules with demanding educational, work, and family
obligations. Allowing students convenient, unlimited access to the course site
and updating it with relevant course information is another means for maintaining
contact with students even when not meeting face to face. Maintaining the WebCT
course can be somewhat time consuming for the instructor but students appear genuinely
appreciative of these efforts.
Student comments regarding access and communication tools included the following:
Easy to use.
I found the WebCT and the calendar to be very useful.
The response time from my initial e-mails were mind-blowing.
I include a copy of my course syllabus on WebCT and 52.5% of the students accessed
the on-line syllabus often and 40% used it sometimes, with 70% of students stating
that the on-line version of the syllabus very useful, and 25% stating it was somewhat
I use WebCT to display the answers to lengthy homework problems that may not
have been optimally displayed in class. I often assign additional homework problems
to reinforce a concept and I direct students to the on-line solution on the WebCT
course page. The on-line homework problems were used often by 35% of the students
and sometimes by another 50%, with 46% stating that it was very useful and 44%
that the on-line homework solutions were somewhat helpful.
Instructors are able to monitor which course site each student views within
WebCT, the number of times the site is visited, and how long the student remains
on the particular site. It was very interesting to see which students used the
homework solutions and how often, as I found a handful of the same students accessing
the homework site several times each week. The homework site appeared to be a
great resource for these students as they reviewed the solutions independently
and then would follow-up with me directly with particular questions.
Student comments regarding this feature were as follows:
WebCT is a great process of learning. It helps a lot, especially students
like myself who have difficulty with language.
This is the first time I have used WebCT and I found it very useful and
helpful in my learning process. The fact that the answers to some of the homework
were posted after going over it in class was also very helpful.
Students reported that the overall WebCT course site contributed a great deal
to the learning of 25% of the students, quite a bit to 45% of the students, and
somewhat to 20%.
Student comments regarding WebCT overall were as follows:
I think that it is fine I just wish you [could] have it for all other classes.
I would keep using WebCT. It's helpful to the student at all times.
I think that the WebCT program is very useful. I would recommend this for
One day I hope every Rhode Island College class is using WebCT. It is very
convenient and efficient.
I really enjoyed this new and interesting experience. Its incorporation
into the course was helpful, useful, and educational. I would recommend this for
other courses as well.
I like it, I like it a lot.
I enjoy using WebCT in my course as the quizzes, mail, calendar, syllabus and
homework solutions enhance the traditional classroom format. WebCT from a student
perspective is a great learning tool, convenient, provides the content material
in a different format, and is even fun. A resource that generates excitement from
students and instructors alike is worth continuing and expanding upon, but one
student final comment, if I may:
The overall use of the WebCT has been very good. I would like to see continued
use in the future, but it still cannot replace an instructor.
i Fifty percent found WebCT mail very useful and 47.5% found it somewhat
ii Forty percent found the calendar feature to be very useful and 40%
percent found it to be somewhat useful.
Copyright © 2002 Lisa Church
Student Responses to the Use of WebCT in a Financial Accounting Course,
Issues in Teaching and Learning, 1:1, 2002.
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