Instructors affect online students
Arbaugh in his article How Instructors Immediacy Behaviours Affect Student Satisfaction and Learning in Web-Based Courses, shares a study he conducted to investigate whether the instructor’s classroom behaviour affected their satisfaction and learning.
Other studies determined time and place flexibility, patience with new online learners, and student interaction increased student satisfaction -but are considered endemic and repeatable by any institution. The engagement of the instructor was seen as a added value and worth exploring.
Immediacy refers to” communication behaviours that reduce social and psychological distance between people” (p.43), and includes nonverbal and verbal behaviours such as using personal examples, inviting responses, being humorous, making eye contact and smiling, body position, addressing students by their name. These are associated with increased student motivation and learning.
Arbaugh found that appropriate immediacy behaviours were essential and requires more than generating class discussion through questions. It requires the strategies indicated above.
Furthermore, the instructors experience with online learning was not a predictor of learning. Again, strong classroom skills are essential and transferable online. Other factors affecting student satisfaction was students in the program longer are less satisfied which might be due to burn out or higher expectations, students might feel intimidated by technically advanced instructors but see them as better teachers online, and students are more satisfied if they can choose their courses.