As colleges and universities compete for student enrollment, the emergence of on-line instruction has become a world-wide reality. This study investigated course candidates' evaluations of a course and professor that was delivered in two distinctly different on-line formats and a traditional face-to-face format. The study focused on student evaluations and comments that were generated from end-of course evaluations of course format and professor efficacy. The syllabi used for the courses in each of the three delivery formats were identical. The study, conducted over a period of an academic year, sought to compare students' perceptions of the strength of the course and professor in the three formats.
On-line and Traditional Instructional Formats
As the world's colleges and universities strive to maintain their viability in the marketplace many have, to at least some extent, become engaged in on-line programs that range from individual courses to stand-alone degree programs. The courses in these programs are taught by instructors and professors whose status range from adjunct instructors to tenured, full professors. Although traditional "brick and mortar" colleges account for many college enrollments, traditional (face-to-face) instruction is becoming less popular to prospective students who find the convenience of on-line instruction more suitable to both their life-style and learning-style.
As college and universities engage in on-line instruction in addition to traditional models of instruction, debates rage in regard to the efficacy of both in regard to preparing students for life after college. Allen (2006) indicates how the efficacy concern has become a major divisive issue in the current-day higher education landscape.Large institutions are often faced with competing agendas (e.g., profit vs. employee satisfaction). Likewise, academic institutions, in an effort to stay competitive and attract quality students and faculty, find themselves confronted with competing agendas. For traditional "brick and mortar" colleges and universities, the complexities of the current academic landscape present numerous paradoxes for students, faculty, and administrators. In particular, the rush to provide advances in technology, specifically on-line and distance learning is in sharp contrast to institutional goals of retaining and graduating students (p. 122). In a study conducted by Warren and Holloman (2005) outside investigators were engaged to determine if the outcomes produced by on-line programs were different than those produced by more traditional instructional programs. The results indicated that on-line programs were as efficacious as their face-to-face counterpoint and there was no significant difference in student satisfaction in the two formats.
On the other hand, Allen (2006) cited three specific reasons why on-line programs were inferior to the traditional face-to-face model programs.On-Line courses are likely to distance students from important aspects of academic integration; On-Line courses are likely to distance students from opportunities to become socially integrated; distancing students from the on-campus experience creates a sense of "distance" from learning and relationship building, particularly for those students who already feel "distanced" (p. 123-124).
In a study conducted by Hurt (2008) initial interviews indicated that on-line instruction was substandard as compared to face-to-face instruction. Further interviews indicated that on-line instruction was not substandard,...