A Portrait of Distance Learners in Higher Education

Shelia Y. TUCKER

Since the dynamic nature of distance education students precludes that of a typical student, this study examined the characteristics of students enrolled in five randomly selected Business, Career, and Technical Education courses at a large doctoral II university in eastern North Carolina. A survey was completed to assess a variety of single-item demographic measures, including age, class standing, ethnicity, location, outside responsibility; as well as attitudes and overall satisfaction with web-based courses. The Canfield Learning Styles Inventory was used to determine students’ preferred learning styles. Results indicate that the majority of the participants prefer working alone toward individual goals and on materials that are highly and conceptually organized. The majority had completed at least five web-based courses, preferred web-based instruction, were female, Caucasian, older than 25 years of age, lived in rural areas, had prior college experience, and had job responsibilities. They had high self-efficacy beliefs and were also satisfied with the following: the instructor, perceived amount learned, and overall web-based training. There was a high correlation between satisfaction between web-based training and the perceived quantity learned; and between satisfaction with the instructor, perceived quantity learned, and web-based training.

KEYWORDS: Web-based Education, Distance Education, Learninig Styles