Why Do Online Programs Increase Student Enrollment In Online Education?

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For almost a decade, student enrollment rates in online educational programs have greatly increased and exceeded overall student enrollment in higher education (Allen & Seaman, 2010). These numbers are expected to continue to rise each year, particularly due to the downturn of the economy, including rising unemployment rates and increased fuel costs (Allen & Seaman, 2008; Allen & Seaman, 2010). Furthermore, many adult learners are returning to online programs to further their education because of the convenience and flexibility of courses while balancing home and work demands (Noel-Levitz, 2011). Many academic institutions have reported that online programs are critical to their long-term growth, as there is a greater demand for online classes …show more content…
Student satisfaction refers to students’ perceptions of learning experiences and their overall value of a course (Kuo et al., 2013). Higher student satisfaction leads to lower attrition rates, higher discipline in learning, and higher motivation in pursing further online education (Allen & Seaman, 2008; Kuo et al., 2013). Higher levels of student satisfaction also make online programs more marketable, as they are perceived by higher education institutions to represent better quality programs (Yukselturk & Yildirim, 2008).
Previous research has indicated that students in an online environment have higher perceptions of success and satisfaction when they feel a greater sense of interactivity with the instructor (Yousef, 2012). Teaching presence and social presence are important concepts in establishing a productive learning community. Therefore, there is a need to examine specific constructs related to their roles in online instruction and student satisfaction.
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Miller, Hahs-Vaughn, and Zygouris-Coe (2014) examined the relationship between teaching presence and student satisfaction. These authors found that students’ sense of satisfaction with instructors and the course were highly correlated with the teaching presence behaviors. Facilitating discourse and direct instruction had the strongest correlations with student satisfaction. Kupczynski, Ice, Weisenmayer, and McCluskey, (2010) had similar findings, which indicated that graduate and undergraduate level students benefitted most from suitable instructional design and organization, as well as direct instruction. Students’ perceptions of success were also related to their ability to develop higher order thinking through the instructor’s active facilitation of discourse. Hosler and Arend (2012) reported in a qualitative study that students’ felt that certain aspects of teaching presence, including course organization and relevant assignments, increased their critical thinking

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