Investigation of student learning strategies and satisfaction in online distance education courses
Robinson, Nancy Pliska
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Designing suitable learning environments requires an understanding of the learner. As a result, this study examined the levels of participation, self-efficacy, self-regulated learning strategies (SRLS), prior computer experience, and gender to help educators focus on why students were satisfied with their online course experience. This knowledge will be more beneficial to instructors rather than focusing on comparisons of traditional face-to-face to technology-assisted online instruction. Since the debate is not which method is better but whether distance education is responding to learners’ needs, evaluating each course based upon individual learner characteristics will provide further insight into the most effective methods of delivering instruction online. A causal-comparative design was used to achieve the design objectives. Two survey instruments were created: an online self-efficacy and learning strategies survey and an online satisfaction survey. Validation procedures, pilot tests, and final instruments were administered over a six-month period to students enrolled in different asynchronous online distance education courses at a major southeastern university. In addition, a quantitative analysis of text-based bulletin board discussions was performed to determine levels of participation. This study examined separately two online courses of 15 and 11 participants. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) did not support differences in satisfaction between low, medium, and high levels of students’ self-efficacy for either sample. However, differences in satisfaction between levels of SRLS were supported for one sample. Levels of participation were measured with scores derived from formulas developed for participationpresence (PP) and participation-interactivity (PI). An ANOVA did not reveal any statistical significance in satisfaction for levels of participation in online discussions. Results from independent samples t tests were not statistically significant with respect to novice and expert categories of scores measuring prior computer experience. A tangential result of this study was the development of reliable instruments to measure prior computer experience, self-efficacy, SRLS, and satisfaction. This study represents an indepth analysis of the complex characteristics of students’ satisfaction with their online course experience with the expectation that this will provide important information about what constitutes success for students and instructors.