The (Lack of) Influence of Age and Class Standing on Preferred Teaching Behaviors for Online Students

Shannon Kennan


This study contributes to the growing body of literature about what makes a successful online learning environment. Specifically, it addresses assumptions made about online learning environments — that privilege self-determination and adult learners — by measuring students’ preferences for teaching behaviors that they believe help them succeed in online classrooms. Using two waves of survey data, only seven teaching behaviors were consistently related to online learners based on differences in age and class standing among students, and those behaviors do not fit neatly within the assumptions typically made about adult learners. These findings should begin to raise questions about whether the assumptions made about adult learners actually manifest in online learning environments. This study reveals evidence of a more pragmatically-minded group of adult learners, particularly when considering the impact of age and class standing for online students.


Online Learning; Adult Learners, Self Directed Learning

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