Comparison of Live Versus Online Instruction of a Novel Soft Skills Course in Mongolia CUREUS Mahadevan, A., Strehlow, M. C., Dorjsuren, K., Newberry, J. A. 2017; 9 (11): e1900


Background Soft skills are essential for employee success in the global marketplace; however, many developing countries lack content experts to provide the requisite instruction to an emerging workforce. One possible solution is to use an online, open-access curriculum. To date, no studies on soft skills curricula using an online learning platform have been undertaken in Mongolia. Objective To evaluate the efficacy of an online versus classroom platform to deliver a novel soft skills course in Mongolia. Methods A series of eight lectures along with corresponding surveys and multiple choice question tests were developed and translated into the Mongolian language. Two different delivery modalities, online and traditional classroom lectures, were then compared for knowledge gain, comfort level, and satisfaction. Knowledge gain and comfort level were assessed pre- and post-course, while satisfaction was assessed only post-course. Results Enrollment in the online and classroom courses was 89 students and 291 students, respectively. Sixty-two online students (68% female) and 114 classroom students (77% female) completed the entire course and took the post-test. The online cohort had higher pre-test scores than the classroom cohort (46.4% and 37.3%, respectively, p < 0.01). The online cohort's overall knowledge gain was not significant (0.4%, p=0.87), but the classroom cohort's knowledge gain was significant (13.9%, p < 0.01). Both the online and classroom cohorts demonstrated significant improvement in overall comfort level for all soft skills topics (p < 0.01). Both cohorts were also highly satisfied with the course, as assessed on a Likert scale (4.59 for online, 4.40 for classroom). Conclusion The study compared two cohorts of Mongolian college students who took either an online or classroom-based soft skills course, and it was found that knowledge gain was significantly higher for the classroom group, while comfort and satisfaction with individual course topics was comparable.

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