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Student Satisfaction with Online Learning


This study sought to provide an analysis of online education in higher education with a focus on how the condition of human interaction will affect students’ satisfaction relating to their online class experiences. The central question the study sought to answer is: What aspects of human interaction (instructor, teaching assistant [TA], student peer) have led to students’ satisfaction with online courses in the UC online setting? This study used mixed methods of quantitative survey items, qualitative survey items, and qualitative interviewing to explore student perceptions of human interaction. Students in 21 undergraduate, online courses (n = 253) at three UC campuses completed an online survey. Then eight students were interviewed, as their open-ended responses could provide more insight into their experiences with online learning. Descriptive statistics, correlation, and regression analysis were reported for the quantitative portion of the study. Regarding means, analyses revealed that students reported moderate opportunities available to them for human interaction in their online classes. For perceived opportunities for human interaction with TAs, the mean score was 3.45 (between 3 “a few opportunities” and 4 “not much opportunity”) on a Likert Scale. In addition, perceptions of participation with human interaction by students appeared lower, on average, than perceived opportunities.

Further, a relationship between students’ perception of TA availability and their overall satisfaction with the online course was among the relationships found. In addition, opportunities for human interaction emerged as a significant predictor of satisfaction in a regression. For the qualitative portion of this study, open-ended questions and interview results revealed that students’ perceived opportunities for human interaction and participation with TAs enhanced their experiences with online courses. Implications for research and practice were identified. For example, design of online courses should consider the use of TAs to enhance student satisfaction.

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