Antecedents and consequences of college students’ satisfaction with online learning
Delivery of education online has been a growing phenomenon in the 21st century. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet suddenly became the only means, not only for those tertiary students already doing courses via e-learning to continue their education, but also for children to access schooling. In the words of the authors of this study “the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed the emergence of e-learning as a sustainable option for education.”
This research conducted with university students in South Korea has wide-reaching relevance at all levels of education. The authors set out to ascertain what an online course must offer to make students satisfied with this educational delivery method and, thus, happy to continue to undertake further courses by this same method.
The researchers, Nam-Hyun Um and Ahnlee Jang, identified four factors that are critical in determining satisfaction with e-learning. The most important of these, they found, was the students’ interaction with the teacher. One of the items to which study participants responded was “I had frequent and constructive interactions with the instructor in this online class.” The teacher, then, is not simply a source of course material, he or she is the catalyst for learning. That is backed up by the second factor influencing student satisfaction: teaching presence. How the teacher communicates course goals and topics positively influences student level of satisfaction. Predictably, academic self-efficacy and self-management of learning are the two other factors identified as contributing to satisfaction.
Suggesting ways to enhance interaction and teacher presence in online learning, Um and Jang point to providing instant feedback, encouraging students to ask questions, and creating small-group discussion opportunities as positive strategies. In regard to self-management and self-efficacy they recommend that “instructors remind their online students that they shoulder greater responsibility than their counterparts do in traditional classrooms in completing the course and achieving a desirable learning outcome…” Applying that in the wider context of schooling for primary and secondary students during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping youngsters to achieve this capability must surely become part of the role not only of the teacher, but also of the parent/caregiver who is the adult physical presence when online learning is underway in the home.
Finally, and also unsurprisingly, the authors concluded that feeling satisfied with an online course positively influenced their participants’ intention to take more courses online.
What emerged unequivocally for me from this study is that it is quality teaching that determines the success of learning online, not the course content.
Dorothy Pilkington | Copyeditor