Description: This dissertation discovered the factors influencing how students value asynchronous Web-based courses through the use of qualitative methods. Data was collected through surveys, observations, interviews, email correspondence, chat room and bulletin board transcripts. Instruments were tested in pilot studies of previous semesters. Factors were identified for two class formats. The asynchronous CD/Internet class format and the synchronous online Web based class format. Also, factors were uncovered for two of the instructional tools used in the course: the WebCT forum and WebCT testing. Factors were grouped accordingly as advantages or disadvantages under major categories. For the asynchronous CD/Internet class format the advantages were Convenience, Flexibility, Learning Enhancement, and Psychology. The disadvantages included Isolation, Learning Environment, and Technology. For the synchronous online Web based class format the advantages were Convenience, Flexibility, Human Interaction, Learning Enhancement and Psychology, whereas the disadvantages included Isolation, Learning Environment and Technology. Concurrently, the study revealed the following factors as advantages of the WebCT Forum: Help Each Other, Interaction, Socialization, Classroom News, and Time Independent. The disadvantages uncovered were Complaints, Technical Problems and Isolation. Finally, advantages specified for the WebCT testing tool were Convenience, Flexibility and Innovations, and its disadvantages were Surroundings Not Conducive to Learning, and Technical Problems. Results indicate that not only classroom preference, learning style and personality type influence how students value a Web based course, but, most importantly, a student's lifestyle (number of personal commitments, how far they live, and life's priorities). The WebCT forum or bulletin board, and the WebCT testing or computerized testing were seen mostly by students, as good tools for encouraging classroom communication and testing because of the convenience and flexibility offered. Still, further research is needed both quantitatively and qualitatively to ascertain the true weight of the factors discovered in this study.
Date: December 1999
Creator: Pérez Cereijo, Maria Victoria