Academic journal article Journal of Distance Education (Online)

Classroom Motivational Climate in Online and Face-to-Face Undergraduate Courses: The Interplay of Gender and Course Format

Academic journal article Journal of Distance Education (Online)

Classroom Motivational Climate in Online and Face-to-Face Undergraduate Courses: The Interplay of Gender and Course Format

Article excerpt

Introduction

With increasing use of the Internet and the growing number of college students taking online classes, higher education is faced with new opportunities and challenges in online learning. Although some students choose online courses because they require the accessibility that online courses offer, online learning has recently garnered attention due to its perceived advantages over face-to-face classes (Daymont, Blau, & Campbell, 2011). First, online learning does not require students to sit in a classroom; this circumstance saves students travel time and money which could be a big help during challenging economic times. Second, most online learning is asynchronous in nature, thus providing flexibility to students to log into course sites and complete assignments according to their personal schedules. This opportunity can be very appealing to students who may have to work and have no way of attending a face-to-face class. Third, online classes provide a unique platform for students to have their voicDaies heard when they might be too introverted or shy to speak up in face-to-face classes (Daymont et al., 2011). On the other hand, online classes generate other challenges, for example, higher dropout rates, stronger feelings of isolation, higher failing rates, and lower levels of academic engagement and social interaction than occur in face-to-face classes. Each of these challenges may be associated with student perceptions of classroom motivational climate (Mclnnemey & Roberts, 2004; Overbaugh & Nickel, 2010; Pigliapoco & Bogliolo, 2008).

Classroom motivational climate is a dynamic and complex context involving physical and psychological factors that contribute to student success. In the present study, the term classroom motivational climate refers to the motivational aspects of the classroom environment. These aspects exist within the multidimensional classroom and include cognitive, affective, and social, and motivational components. A classroom climate that motivates student learning and effort is likely to result in greater participation, enhanced learning, and higher course satisfaction than other climates do (Jung, Choi, Lim, & Leem, 2002). In research examining the motivational climate conducive to student learning, two major indicators have been identified: classroom goal structure (the goals that instructors set for the class) and sense of community (students' perceptions of belonging and respect). Both indicators have been reported to have a significant impact on students' adoption of effective self-regulated learning approaches such as achievement goals, use of learning strategies, and academic achievement (Ames, 1992; Ames & Archer, 1988).

In this study, perceived classroom motivational climate is viewed as students' interpretation and reflection of motivational functions and influences. Based on current literature, two primary indicators of classroom motivational climate, namely, classroom goal structure and sense of community were included in this study. Given that students' perceptions inform their success in a course (Pulkka & Niemivirta, 2013), it is important to understand students' perceptions of classroom motivational climate.

Dai and Sternberg (2004) asserted that motivation is "indicated by the intensity (or energy), direction, or persistence of a goal-directed behavior or action" (p. 11). Because motivation is often defined as being goal-driven, this study focused on achievement goals that are valued and encouraged at the classroom level (i.e., classroom goal structure) (Meece, Anderman, & Anderman, 2006) and the extent to which the goals are shared and valued among class members (i.e., sense of classroom community) (Cho, Bang, Mathew, Bridges, & Watson, 2010). Generally, classroom goal structures are thought to be heavily influenced by instructors who may design and facilitate learning activities that promote either mastery or performance. …

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