Date of Award

8-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Ralph Brockett

Committee Members

Grady Bogue, Ernest Brewer, Julie Little

Abstract

The main purpose of the study was to determine if selected participant readiness variables correlated with selected satisfaction variables in an online higher education course and to examine the correlations between the readiness variables. Also of interest was the combination of readiness factors that could significantly predict learner satisfaction in the online environment.

A total of 317 individuals who had participated in online courses at The University of Tennessee responded to a “Readiness and Satisfaction Questionnaire.” The survey consisted of five readiness and five satisfaction items developed by the researcher, the PRO-SDLS developed by Stockdale (2003), and 11 demographic questions.

It was found that the reliability of the PRO-SDLS was confirmed for the population surveyed. The high level of the scale’s internal consistency (α = .91) was similar to the level (α = .92) reported by Stockdale (2003).

The demographic section of the questionnaire revealed that individuals who responded to the questionnaire were on average older, with degrees beyond the baccalaureate, and who had completed one or more online course. It also revealed that most were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the course for which they responded to the survey. Perhaps because of these participant characteristics, no significant correlations were revealed between the study’s readiness and satisfaction factors.

Statistical analysis of the readiness factors revealed a significant correlation between self-direction and age (r = .287, p < .01). Three of the readiness factors associated with experience correlated significantly with confidence in online distance learning. They were computer-related experience (r = .370, p < .01), experience with online collaborative environments (r = .398, p < .01), and experience with online courses (r = .542, p < .01). A stepwise regression analysis demonstrated that the factors of experience with online courses, and computer-related experience are predictive of the level of confidence in the online learning environment.

Recommendations for further research include the need for more studies on participant confidence in the online learning environment. Further use of the PRO-SDLS especially with college and university-level students is also recommended. Finally, qualitative studies might enhance understanding of satisfaction with online courses from the participant’s point of view.

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