A study published in the journal of Educational Technology Research and Development has looked at the impact of student perception in online courses, especially for minority student populations. The study authors wanted to examine how student perception of interaction, satisfaction, and performance of minority students in online courses related. As schools and departments attempt to meet the educational needs of modern students, studies like this can help guide the development of learning activities that are more likely to lead to student success.
Looking at the three main types of interaction in online courses, the authors are able to conclude that learner-content interaction was the least affected by student and course variables like age and gender or course length. Learner=instructor interaction was the most influenced by a student’s background variables, perhaps hinting at the importance of culturally responsive instructors in drawing students into interactions. Not surprisingly, learner-learner interactions were impacted most by course variables such as course format and number of discussion board posts. This may point to the need for such peer-interactions to be a more explicit part of the curriculum.
The finding that learner-content interaction simultaneously has the strongest impact on student satisfaction but is not affect by student or course related variables should raise some important questions for instructional designers. The design of the course itself has a measurable impact on student satisfaction. The organization, accessibility, interactivity, and integration of multimedia into course design increases student understanding of the course content and can facilitate other cognitive skills.