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More Student Teacher Interaction For Online College Students May Hurt, Not Help

Increased student teacher interaction may discourage online college students


The more student teacher interaction that occurs in university courses online, the more likely it is that distance learners will drop out of class, according to a surprising new online education study.

Researchers at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania studied 359 online college students taking online community college business courses. The researchers tracked the time online college students and faculty spent in different areas of their online course information system, such as in the gradebook, threaded discussion or email sections.

No significant relationships were found between online class communication and student course completion rates. This contradicts earlier studies which emphasized the critical importance of student teacher interaction in making distance higher education successful.

Interaction between online college students (learner to learner interaction) also was negatively associated with course completion rates in the junior college study.

No relationship was found between class size and completion rates. (The class sizes the researchers studied were between 14 and 30 students.)

However, students were more likely to participate when classes were bigger. Distance education faculty were less likely to participate with larger classes.

Requiring student interaction just for the sake of interaction may lead to diminished completion rates,” stated researchers Christian J. Grandzol and John R. Grandzol. “Standards for online teaching should not contain arbitrary thresholds for required interaction.”

The online education study of student teacher interaction in online courses was published in the summer issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration and is available free online.

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