Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Student's Perception of Quality in Online Courses

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Student's Perception of Quality in Online Courses

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study assessed the perceptions of college students regarding the instructional quality of online and web based courses via Webct. The results showed an overall positive perceptions regarding the instructional quality of online courses delivered via Webct (M = 2.63, SD = 0.87). The mean obtained for students' perceptions regarding the instructional quality items ranged from 2.45 to 2.86. The visual appeal of website material received the highest rating (M = 2.86). Clarity and purpose in introduction to content components earned the lowest ratings (M = 2.45). These results were closely correlated to students' responses regarding the important aspects of instructional quality of online courses. The most important aspect indicated by students was the idea of "clear instruction." The results of the study also indicated other perceived aspects that affect students' views of the instructional quality of an online course, including interaction, design, convenience, feedback, and usability.

Introduction

Online and web based courses have become popular with both students and educational institutions as the new mediums to deliver educational programs. For universities, they are an excellent way to reach students in diverse and distant locations. Some may also be used to supplement school enrollments since students can conceivable be any where and take the courses. Given their popularity and increased use, it is imperative that administrators and professors monitor students' perceptions of courses using these mediums for delivery. This type of feedback can help in modifying and improving the programs, so that course can function as desired by all parties.

Literature Review

A thorough analysis of major research related to students' perception of online courses uncovered important factors that are involved in determining students' satisfaction of online courses (Anderson & Joerg, 1996; Cedefop, 2002; Hara & Kling, 2000; Polloff & Pratt, 2001). The literature indicates that students' perceptions of online vary, but overall are positive (Daugherty & Funke, 1998; Morss, 1999; Polloff & Pratt, 2001). The top reasons for taking online courses were flexibility, convenience, and learning enhancement. Students could "attend" their online courses at any time and from anywhere. Convenient features of online courses include economy of travel, comfort, and family environment. Under learning enhancement, participants ranked technology factors and comprehension as the top reasons (Polloff & Pratt, 2001). The disadvantages of online courses were related to technology and isolation. Technology issues related to poor video quality and complaints about transmission delay over the Internet were included. As for isolation, students voiced the lacked opportunities for informal socialization with instructors and other students.

With regard to the interaction, participants rated interpersonal contact and self-monitoring of individual progress as the most highly rated indicators, followed by the timely responses by instructors. Although indicators existed in each of the interaction areas, self-regulating learning and having timely feedback from the instructor were reported as most valued by participants. Polloff and Pratt (2001) found that students are most satisfied with courses in which the instructors facilitate frequent contact between themselves and students, use active learning techniques, convey high expectations, emphasize of time spent on specific tasks, and provide prompt feedback.

According to Anderson and Joerg (1996), students perceived online courses as a valuable delivery tool, and they reported that online courses changed the dynamics of access to class materials at any time from different locations. Students perceived online courses as a valuable educational improvement, according to one study (Anderson & Joerg, 1996). However, students hesitated to enroll in online courses due to problems associated with Internet access and ongoing questions related to the advantage of the technology. …

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