• A critical evaluation of students' attitudes to electronic learning at the University of Chester

      Shaylor, Jan P.; Wheeler, Timothy J.; Rayner, Linda A. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education)University of Chester, 2007-01)
      The research described in this thesis reports the results of a study into the adoption of e-learning strategies based on the use of the World Wide Web (WWW) and Internet. Through an extensive and critical literature review, it exemplifies how higher education uses intranets to deliver learning and support services to their student population. The overall aim of this research was to investigate how e-learning at the University of Chester might more effectively support students' learning needs, thereby improving their experience of e-learning. Students were given a mode of study, either face-to-face (64 subjects) or experimental using online intranet delivery (66 subjects). The course used for this study was a 13 week, Level Two undergraduate computer course taken by non-computing students. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analysed. The results reveal significant differences between the performance of the e-learning and face-to-face groups with e-learning students performing poorly when compared to their face-to-face peers. A lack of responsiveness in tutor support and student motivation were established as being major contributing factors as well as differences in the students' individual learning profiles. The research concludes that e-learning, although promoted as being anytime and anywhere is limited in its flexibility and responsiveness in the context in which it was assessed. Most e-learning activities at the University of Chester can be described as 'one size fits all'. They require students to read printed text, carry out further work, research or exercises, and post written comments to a discussion board. There is little evidence that individual student needs and preferences are being considered or supported. With the move towards blended learning in educational institutions, e-learning strategies are being used as a regular part of the curriculum to enhance the student experience. This research provides alternatives for the development and delivery of more individually tailored e-learning courses and provides strategies for supporting students in virtual environments more effectively. The thesis concludes by proposing a new model for e-learning based on these results coupled with a self-critical review and proposals for further research.
    • Delay differential equations: Detection of small solutions

      Ford, Neville J.; Lumb, Patricia M. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education)University College Chester, 2004-04)
      This thesis concerns the development of a method for the detection of small solutions to delay differential equations. The detection of small solutions is important because their presence has significant influence on the analytical prop¬erties of an equation. However, to date, analytical methods are of only limited practical use. Therefore this thesis focuses on the development of a reliable new method, based on finite order approximations of the underlying infinite dimen¬sional problem, which can detect small solutions. Decisions (concerning the existence, or otherwise, of small solutions) based on our visualisation technique require an understanding of the underlying methodol¬ogy behind our approach. Removing this need would be attractive. The method we have developed can be automated, and at the end of the thesis we present a prototype Matlab code for the automatic detection of small solutions to delay differential equations.
    • Numerical analysis of some integral equations with singularities

      Ford, Neville J.; Thomas, Sophy M. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2006-04)
      In this thesis we consider new approaches to the numerical solution of a class of Volterra integral equations, which contain a kernel with singularity of non-standard type. The kernel is singular in both arguments at the origin, resulting in multiple solutions, one of which is differentiable at the origin. We consider numerical methods to approximate any of the (infinitely many) solutions of the equation. We go on to show that the use of product integration over a short primary interval, combined with the careful use of extrapolation to improve the order, may be linked to any suitable standard method away from the origin. The resulting split-interval algorithm is shown to be reliable and flexible, capable of achieving good accuracy, with convergence to the one particular smooth solution.