Factors Contributing to the Effectiveness of Online Students and Instructors

Factors Contributing to the Effectiveness of Online Students and Instructors

Michelle Kilburn (Southeast Missouri State University, USA), Martha Henckell (Southeast Missouri State University, USA) and David Starrett (Columbia College, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch125


Identifying the positive attributes of students and instructors in the online environment will contribute to the understanding of how we can enhance the learning experience for the student and the teaching experience for the instructor. This article will assist students and instructors in understanding the differences that may be experienced in the online environment versus the face-to-face environment and provide the opportunity to consider whether online learning and/or teaching is a “good fit” for them. Understanding why students and/or instructors might choose the online environment will also assist administrators in developing successful, quality online programs that enrich the experiences for both students and instructors.
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In 1981, the first online classes were developed at the School of Management and Strategic Studies at Western Behavior Sciences Institute in La Jolla, California. An evaluation of the program, and the discussions that took place, revealed that the quality of the online course was higher than the information collected in the traditional classroom setting (Feenberg, 1999).

Since that time, a number of studies have compared the effectiveness of online instruction to traditional lecture formats. Findings have admittedly been mixed (Rivera, & McAlister, 2001; Ungerleider & Burns, 2004; Zhang, 2005). Even though a majority of the studies find no difference in student performance and student satisfaction, regardless of the delivery format (Lim, Kim, Chen & Ryder, 2008; McFarland & Hamilton, 2006), there is concern regarding online student retention. Knowledge of student characteristics and how they can possibly affect online course success can provide the opportunity for faculty to intervene before grades are affected or dropout rates increase (Cochran, et al., 2014).

Kilburn (2005) developed the following conceptual map regarding student motivations to take an online course at a particular University in the Midwest. (see Figure 1)

Figure 1.

Motivations to take online courses


Key Terms in this Chapter

Asynchronous Learning: Electronic communication in which the student and teacher interact via e-mail and listservs, but do not do so by being on the Internet at the same time ( Berge & Collins, 1995 ).

Distance Learning: Learning that occurs when the instructor and students are separated by physical distance and technology is used to bridge the instructional gap ( Boaz, Elliott, Foshee, Hardy, Jarmon, & Olcott, 1999 ).

Web-Based Instruction: A media-rich online environment allowing people to interact with others asynchronously or synchronously in collaborative and distributed environments ( Harasim, 1995 ), to gain access to remote multi-media databases for active and resource-based learning ( Jung & Lee, 1993 ), and to manage self-paced individual learning in a flexible way ( Reeves & Reeves, 1997 ).

Synchronous Learning: Adjective used to describe an operation performed at the same time as another event ( Boaz, et al., 1999 ).

Online Learning/Course: A context for learning in which students interact using technology and do not meet in a physical classroom with the instructor.

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