Students’ Satisfaction with Quality of Synchronous Online Learning Under the COVID 19 Pandemic: Perceptions from Liberal Arts and Science Undergraduates
Keywords:higher education, synchronous learning, virtual/online learning, Covid-19
COVID-19 imposed dramatic changes on educational practices worldwide with American institutions of higher learning moving a significant number of their courses and educational programs to electronic online modes. In the post-pandemic world, the same institutions and educational programs recognize the need to incorporate technological components into their courses. Yet, some disciplines and areas of study may be better equipped for this change than others. The liberal arts are believed to be more reliant on face-to-face interaction and thus can be argued to have been more negatively affected by the required move to synchronous online learning during the pandemic Instructors have the option of teaching online courses either synchronously or asynchronously. As synchronous online learning requires course delivery in real-time via online video conferencing, the hope is that some of the drawbacks associated with teaching liberal arts online can be mitigated with technology-based, face-to-face interaction. In the spirit of exploring the relationship between liberal arts education and synchronous online learning, this research aimed at gauging Jacksonville liberal arts students’ levels of satisfaction with the quality of instruction in synchronously delivered courses during the spring semester of 2021. Informed by the Community of Inquiry theory, of special interest were aspects of synchronous online learning like interaction with the virtual platform (video conferencing), interaction with content, interaction with instructor, and interaction with peers. Three local institutions participated in this study, yielding a sample of 141 students who participated in an anonymous Qualtrics survey pertaining to their learning experiences in the synchronous mode. Using a mixed-methods approach, results show positive perceptions, challenges, and recommendations for synchronous online learning.
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