Improving Learning Outcomes: Unlimited vs. Limited Attempts and Time for Supplemental Interactive Online Learning Activities

Lydia M. MacKenzie


Research indicates the use of interactive online learning (IOL) instructional strategies such as multiple choice, "drag and drop" matching exercises, and case discussions, in online courses enhances learning and results in better learning outcomes. While some instructors might use interactive resources for regular assessments that only allow for one attempt, this experiment examines whether limiting the attempts and the time to complete IOL instructional strategies significantly improves learning outcomes as measured by performance scores on two required exams. The author posits that students who have limited attempts (2) and limited time (20 minutes) will in fact read the chapters before attempting to complete the interactive online activities, thus increasing the correlation between the interactive online activity scores and exam scores. Unlimited attempts and unlimited time provide students with the opportunity to search the textbook for the answers without reading the assigned chapters. As anticipated, the experimental groups with limited attempts and limited time on the IOL activities did demonstrate a statistically significant relationship to combined exam scores. The findings indicate that limited attempts and limited time on formative assessments correlated with exam scores while those formative assessments without constraints did not.

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Copyright (c) 2019 Lydia M. MacKenzie

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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