Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Variables Related to Undergraduate Students Preference for Distance Education Classes

The purpose of this research is to identify student-specific characteristics that are related to students? preference for distance education courses. Since distance education courses provide students with more convenient and flexible class schedules, they should be preferred by students who have a greater number of competing demands, such as work and family, on their time. Not surprisingly, previous research has shown that such competing demands are also risk factors for undergraduate degree non-completion. Therefore a major purpose of this research is to examine whether students with risk factors for noncompletion of their undergraduate degree prefer distance education courses. Another purpose of this research is to examine whether students with a disability that limits their mobility, and thus experience greater barriers to access their face-to-face class rooms, prefer distance education classes. For this research, the data are from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS) conducted in 2003- 04. The NPSAS uses a complex survey design to collect data from a nationally representative sample of about 80,000 postsecondary undergraduate students in the US. Results confirm that students with increasing number of risk factors for non-completion of their degree show a significantly greater preference for distance education courses. Results also show that students with limited mobility also prefer distance education classes. Taken together, these results suggest that distance education classes are likely to increase enrollment and degree completion rates both for non-traditional undergraduates, who have more risk factors for degree non-completion than traditional undergraduates, and for students with physical disabilities that limit their mobility.