What Characteristics of College Students Influence Their Decisions to Select Online Courses?
The primary goal of this study was to identify a wide range of characteristics of college students that may influence their decisions to select online courses. The motivation underlying this study is the realization that online courses are no longer exclusively being taken by non-traditional students (for undergraduates, that would be students age 25 years and older with career, family, and/or social obligations). In fact, there are recent reports indicating that traditional undergraduate students (on-site students that are age 18-24) are now including online courses in their course curriculum. To accomplish the goal of this study, an ordered logit model was developed in which a Likert scale question asking students how likely/unlikely they were to take an online course was used at the dependent variable. The independent variables were based on a wide range of responses to questions regarding student demographic, experience, and preference information (these are the students’ characteristics). The data for this study is from a 2010 Oklahoma State University campus-wide student survey. The results of the study have identified a number of considerations that may be helpful to administrators wishing to improve and/or expand online course offering, as well as areas that can be further investigated in future studies. For example, undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in business majors were more likely than those in other majors to select online courses. On the other hand, undergraduate students (traditional and non-traditional) enrolled in engineering majors and graduate students enrolled in anatomy, biochemistry, biology, and botany major were the least likely groups of students to select online courses. Freshman and sophomores were found to be more likely than juniors and seniors to select online courses, and were much more likely than graduate students to select online courses. With respect to residency, out-of-state/non-residents (not including international students) were the most likely to select online courses, while international students were the least likely to select online courses. Finally, a significant and positive relationship was identified between some web 2.0 technologies, such as online social networking (e.g. Facebook) and live video chatting (e.g. Skype), and students’ likelihood of selecting online courses.
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration