The computer ate my classroom: Assessing student interactions, perceived learning, and satisfaction in online community college career technical education courses

Jessica Lindsey Miller Lewis


Workforce changes, globalization, and increasing use of technology create the need for an increased number of skilled workers. The community college system, through Career Technical Education (CTE), serves as a catalyst for skills training; however institutions must seek innovative ways in which to attract and retain students. Online learning offers flexibility in time and space, the ability to reach a larger student population, and to attract a new generation of digital learners. For these reasons, online learning enables institutions to develop a larger pool of skilled workers through online CTE courses. Interaction is a key factor in the learning process and draws much attention from those who research online learning. The first hypothesis examines the relationship among student-to-instructor interaction (SII) and student-to-student interaction (SSI) and student satisfaction. The second hypothesis examines the relationship among SII and SSI and perceived learning. Control variables, including gender, age, previous online courses taken, and Internet experience, serve to minimize threats to validity and to isolate the effects of the independent variables. The research instrument utilized for this study is a survey developed by Sher (2009) and includes survey items from Hiltz (1994), Arbaugh (2000), and Johnson et al. (2000). The survey measures student satisfaction, perceived learning, student-to-student interaction, and student-to-instructor interaction. The survey was sent to 844 online CTE students with 148 of those surveys completed. Sequential regression analysis was performed to analyze the hypotheses. SII was found to be a significant predictor of student satisfaction. SII and SSI were found to be significant predictors of perceived learning.