Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Center for Science and Math Education


Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Chair

Sherry Herron

Committee Chair Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 2

James T. Johnson

Committee Member 3

Fengwei Bai

Committee Member 3 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 4

Mohamed Elasri

Committee Member 4 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 5

Taralynn Hartsell

Committee Member 5 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education


Community colleges are among many other institutions increasing course offerings online, but there is still some concern about the quality of online learning. Educator concerns, a lack of empirical evidence on biology courses offered online, and the need for an equal opportunity for education support the need for clarification of the quality of distance education in biology, especially in the community college setting. Student attitudes, approaches to learning, and performance should all be studied in order to formulate a better evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of online courses (Svirko & Mellanby, 2008).

The purpose of this study was to determine whether there were differences in student perceptions of transactional distance, approaches to learning, and student learning outcomes in online versus face-to-face community college introductory biology courses. The results of this investigation indicate that some aspects of transactional distance did affect the participants’ desires for deep learning approaches. Also, except for perceptions of student interaction and collaboration, the online and face-to-face course experiences and outcomes seemed similar.