Student Perceptions of an Effective Learning Environment Across the Dimensions of Synchronous, Asynchronous, and Face-To-Face Instruction
Prior to the implementation of computer technology in the classroom, the traditional classroom dynamic consisted of a chalkboard, a lectern, a teacher handout, and the occasional group assignments. However, as technology continues to evolve, so has the restructuring of the educational system (Woods & Baker, 2004). This evolution, which began as correspondence courses by mail, has resulted in a Web-based learning community characterized by its rich learner-centered environment where both student and instructor collaborate and engage in constructivist practices (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004). This study sought to expand the existing body of knowledge on distance learning and employed quantitative techniques (multiple linear regression, One-Way Manova, and Repeated-measures design) to investigate students' perceptions of the quality of courses delivered through synchronous and asynchronous instruction and compared their perceptions to face-to-face instruction. A sample comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from five regional universities was used to complete the study. Results from the study showed no statistically significant relationship among student demographics and technological skills. The researcher did find a statistically significant difference between students' rating of quality instruction when given a preference between synchronous online instruction with voice and asynchronous online instruction. Such findings reveal that when students are given a choice between synchronous online instruction with voice and asynchronous online instruction they tend to prefer an asynchronous online environment. Last, there were no statistically significant differences regarding students' perceptions of quality instruction based on gender. These results suggest that university administrators should consider investing in computer instructional technologies regardless of student demographics. Other results from the study show that despite the many features of SOW, seem to prefer an asynchronous online learning as compared to synchronous online learning regardless of gender.