Research: Length of online course and student satisfaction, perceived learning, and academic performance

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance LearningAbstract

This research presents findings from a two-part study.  In the first part, graduate students taking online courses were given a course evaluation form.  Student responses from online abbreviated summer sessions were compared to student responses from online full-semester courses. 

Both the intensive and full-semester courses were taught by the same professor and both had identical requirements in terms of assignments and exams.  The independent variable was the length of time taken to complete the requirements, with the dependent variables being satisfaction with the course, perceived learning, and academic performance.  A statistical analysis of the data found significant differences in a number of areas.

Keywords: Online learning; course format; graduate school; course satisfaction; communication;academic performance; five-week intensive course; full-semester course; massed vs. distributed learning; equivalency theory


In the E-Learning and Online Teaching Graduate Certificate Program at UW-Stout our intensive courses are 8 weeks long. During this time, instructors provide personalized formative assessment on a weekly basis.  We have found this format maximizes learning while providing a manageable time commitment for busy adult learners.


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