e-Learning and e-Pedagogy: How Do We Know It Works?

D.J. Shelley, L.B. Swartz, and M.T. Cole (USA)


e-learning, e-pedagogy, student satisfaction, instructional formats


In response to market pressures and budgetary constraints, e-pedagogy is becoming more widely accepted as an important instructional model in higher education. As more institutions of higher learning offer online courses, the focus on e-learning increases, as do concerns about how to measure e-learning. This paper reports on the results of two mixed-methods studies conducted at Robert Morris University, the first in 2006 and the second in 2007. Both studies compared instructional formats with regard to student learning and student satisfaction using the same course taught both online and in the classroom. Instructional components were the same except for the format. In each study, the same professor taught the same course, using the same textbook, syllabus and assessments. The first study found no statistically significant differences between the two modes of instruction in either student learning or student satisfaction with the learning experience. Online delivery compared favorably with classroom delivery. However, the second study did find statistically significant differences in two elements of student satisfaction: 1) with the instructor and, 2) with the course structure. In both cases, online instruction compared less favorably to classroom instruction. Yet, in both studies, learning was greater in the online format.

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