An Empirical Investigation of Student Achievement and Satisfaction in Different Learning Environments

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of three different methods of instructional delivery (online instruction, traditional face-to-face instruction, and a combination of online and traditional instruction) on student achievement and satisfaction levels used in an undergraduate wellness course at a Midwestern university. Differences in the student ratings of the course and instructor, quality of learning, quality of communication, and support were also examined. One hundred fifty-three undergraduate students (71 men, 82 women; between the ages of 18 and 55 years, M=22.5 years, SD=7.0) completed a survey for this study. A survey was developed to examine student demographics, student perceptions of online learning, and student satisfaction levels. Comparing the mean scores of a written pretest and post-test among three groups was used to determine the content knowledge achievement of students. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Post hoc Scheffe multiple comparisons were conducted to compare the effects of the three different methods of instructional delivery on student achievement and satisfaction levels. The results of this study indicated that students in the online learning group and the combined learning group had statistically significant higher levels of achievement than students in the traditional learning group (p<.01). Students in the combined learning group had significant greater satisfaction levels with their overall learning experience than students in the traditional learning group (p<.05). But, no significant differences were found between the online learning and traditional learning groups. Most students indicated that they would like to see an online option when enrolling for the course in the future. These findings suggest that a well-designed online course and a web-enhanced residential course can be effective in teaching wellness.

**********

Over the past decade, advances in the Internet and information technologies have significantly facilitated student learning and teaching in colleges and universities throughout the world. Today, access to the Internet and information technologies is widely available in homes, schools, libraries and other settings accessible to students. Considering a large percentage of university populations working part-time or full-time and using technology on a more frequent basis than in the past, online education using the Internet and information technologies is becoming and increasingly popular tools for distance education to better meet students' needs, interests, learning styles and work schedules. Recent National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports demonstrate that online education availability, course offerings, and enrollments have been increased rapidly among institutions from K-12 to four-year universities since the 1990s (NECS, 2003).A comprehensive survey released by the Sloan Consortium indicated that online education would continue to grow at a rate of nearly 20%. In line with the national trend, more colleges and universities are increasingly adopting and implementing online education (Allen & Seaman, 2003).

Although a growing number of research studies have compared the effectiveness of online instruction to traditional face-to-face instruction, findings from these studies have been markedly mixed. A majority of the published studies show no difference in student performance and student satisfaction regardless of whether a course was taken traditionally or online, whereas others show advantage for online instruction or for traditional instruction. For instance, McFarland and Hamilton (2006) found no difference in student performance and satisfaction between students who studied online and students who studied in a traditional manner. Further, some studies found the online instruction group achieved better performance and higher levels of satisfaction than the traditional classroom (Zhang, 2005). …