Learner Characteristics for Online Learning

Learner Characteristics for Online Learning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1542-6.ch006


Learner characteristics are vital to student success so that teachers can reach them and stimulate their curiosity such that they will wish to learn and find it interesting. One characteristic unique to the online venue is students feeling isolated. Other distinguishing elements include the type of course, whether students pay for their courses, demographics, self-efficacy, motivation, and control over the learning process. Technical characteristics also affect online learning. These characteristics include user-friendly technology, convenience, sophisticated technology, previous experience with eLearning, and access to mobile technology. Administrative characteristics are also important and include nine constituent elements. These include affective learning engagement and the success of community colleges. Then one must consider recognition of essential learner traits, learning styles, motivational factors, the situation theory of publics, and the role of self-efficacy. Next, administration should promote self-regulatory learning skills and improved course access. Finally, motivation characteristics must also be considered. All of these elements influence student success in online learning.
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Learner Characteristics For Online Learning

Figure 1.



A multitude of learner characteristics suggested success in online learning. Among these was the need to feel part of the class. The online setting is one of social isolation owing to the nature of the setting. Students who feel isolated are not likely to do well online (Seiver & Troja, 2014; Aversa & MacCall, 2013; Waladis, Hachy, & Conway, 2013). For example, Seiver and Troja (2014) pointed out that the likelihood of success depended upon how connected participants felt to their classmates and their instructor. They supported this observation through references to various studies. In their estimation, the best academic performance was the result of instructors who facilitated social interaction; the greatest satisfaction was the result of collaboration with classmates. “The greatest predictor of student satisfaction were [sic] instructor feedback, clear directions from the instructor, and clear expectations of course work” (Seiver & Troja, 2014, p. 91). See Table 1 for a listing of learner characteristics.

Table 1.
Learner characteristics affecting student success in online learning
Connectedness to classmates and instructorTo reduce the isolation that is inherent in online venues through group work, social opportunities, guest speakers, and so forth.
Type of courseIn STEM courses for non-majors, target and provide support to persist and to succeed in them.
Pay for coursesPeople tend to value that for which they pay and hold in little esteem that for which they do not pay.
Successful completion of previous online courses.If a student has successfully completed an online course, it tends to promote completion of another online course.
Demographics: female, older, married, part-time studentsThese demographics tend to describe those who enroll in online courses.
Self-efficacyStudents having strong self-efficacy and self-regulation tend to do well in online courses.
Student MotivationStudents are motivated to learn by six factors: external motivators, curiosity, self-efficacy, attitude, need, and competence (Rovai et al. 2007). Further, online students appear to be more strongly motivated than traditional classroom students.
Direct and control the learning process particularly time and resources.Online university students seem to direct and control their learning processes, time, and resources.

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