Date of Award

5-2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Edward L. Counts

Committee Members

Ralph G. Brockett, Susan E. Metros, John R. Ray

Abstract

There is a diverse population of students who will benefit greatly from a convenient, time and place-independent learning environment. Distance education provides this type of environment and addresses the many needs of adult learners and the new generation of online learners. The problem is that this environment differs from a traditional institution of higher learning and continues to bring about questions from educators related to the issue of equivalency between online and traditional degree programs, especially in terms of student support services, such as the library.

The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions and attitudes of students regarding traditional and distance library services, determine if the outcomes resulting from the library services provided in the online degree programs were equivalent to those outcomes for on-campus programs and provide information to enhance and improve the effectiveness of online degree programs.

An online survey was conducted focusing on the perceptions and attitudes of students regarding traditional and distance library services. The results of the study indicated that overall the students were satisfied with the library resources and services available to them and the students did not perceive that the distance library services were different from the traditional library services. Possible reasons underlying this perception may be that approximately 85 percent of the students had prior college experience or had completed a degree. Therefore, students most likely were familiar with today’s library services. However, institutions should remain proactive because distance education students will continue to demand and expect libraries to meet their needs. As these demands and expectations are explored new library services and resources will emerge. Also, institutions of higher learning must have a commitment to providing distance students with the same quality of education and equivalent support services as on-campus students if they expect those outside the educational arena to respect degrees obtained through this means of educational learning.

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