The key to satisfaction in distance education : A qualitative study of how to achieve student satisfaction in distance-based education.
Abstract: E-learning is something that has grown very fast for many years as today's technology is constantly evolving and gives us new opportunities. E-learning enables distance education in many ways and does this regardless of time and space. It represents a large part of today's education and therefore quality is important. If distance studies are facilitated properly, it gives students the opportunity to effectively balance their private life together with their studies. Although it simplifies education for many, it comes with its own difficulties and challenges. This can be a big factor as to why distance studies have a higher dropout rate than regular campus studies. In this thesis, the areas course design, interaction and the teacher’s impact are investigated to examine student satisfaction in distance education. In previous findings, these areas were highlighted as crucial factors for student satisfaction. With the expectationconfirmation theory as a base, a qualitative method, consisting of interviews with distance students at Linnaeus University was conducted. The collected data was transcribed and analyzed with the use of themes and codes. The results show that interaction is something that is hard to achieve at a distance. The universities should promote student interaction as it is something the students struggle with, suggestively through "icebreaker" exercises. The interaction between teacher-students is something that was valued high, but depending on how well the course was structured, the teacher-student interaction was not needed as much. Teachers should avoid scattered communication as this turned out to have a negative impact on the student satisfaction. The teacher was shown to be important in different ways, where their pedagogical ability and the ability to handle and share information through digital tools was shown to be very impactful. The course design was found to affect the students' satisfaction the most. Structure and availability of all relevant material and segments of a course proved to be extremely important, this gives the student the opportunity to plan their studies. To improve and naturally include interaction amongst students, discussion proved to be an important segment of a course.
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