Age Matters: Student Experiences with Audio Learning Guides in University-based Continuing Education

  • Lorraine Mercer Huntington University, Sudbury, ON
  • Birgit Pianosi Huntington University, Sudbury, ON


The primary objective of this research was to explore the experiences of undergraduate distance education students using sample audio versions (provided on compact disc) of the learning guides for their courses. The results of this study indicated that students responded positively to the opportunity to have word-for-word audio versions of their printed learning guides. Students found the audio guides functioned as a way to review course content. After careful review of the comments, the researchers found students want access to additional learning tools that elaborate on the written course content and connect them to traditional classroom lectures and discussions. Additional statistical analysis of the data collected in this study demonstrated a difference between traditional-age students (up to 25 years) and mature-age students (older than 25 years) in their response to the audio versions of the learning guides. More of the mature-age students found the audio version of their study guide to be helpful to their learning. The implications for the findings are numerous, including the need to review existing distance course offerings and incorporate additional audio and visual learning tools for undergraduate university students who are studying through distance education.

Author Biographies

Lorraine Mercer, Huntington University, Sudbury, ON
Lorraine Mercer is an assistant professor in the Gerontology Department at Huntington University in Sudbury, Ontario. She is also the director of the Lougheed Teaching and Learning Centre of Excellence at Huntington University. Her current research interests are in intercultural curriculum development for gerontology.
Birgit Pianosi, Huntington University, Sudbury, ON
Birgit Pianosi is an associate professor and the chair of the Gerontology Department and the Centre for Research in Gerontology at Huntington University in Sudbury, Ontario. She is also the chair of the Ontario Interdisciplinary Council for Aging and Health with the Council of Ontario Universities. Her main research interest is in gerontology competencies and professionalization of the discipline of gerontology.