Student Attitudes Towards Distance Learning at a Large Urban Public College




Distance learning, online learning, student attitudes, student perceptions, surveys, motivation


Student attitudes towards distance learning can affect both the acquisition of knowledge and the motivation to learn. This study explores student attitudes towards the following four topics: (1) technological and environmental impediments towards distance learning, (2) asynchronous vs. synchronous course preferences, (3) online vs. in-person course preferences, and (4) attitudes towards taking online courses in the future. The findings of the study are based on two anonymous online surveys conducted in the spring and fall of 2020 among students at a large urban public college located in the Northeast U.S.  The study reveals that a significant number of students have unreliable Internet and live in homes not conducive for online learning.  By a narrow margin, students prefer an asynchronous to a synchronous approach to online learning.  Along several dimensions covering different facets of the classroom experience, students prefer in-person courses to online courses.  The disparities favoring in-person classes are most noticeable with respect to the ability to concentrate in class sessions, feeling motivated to learn, and developing friendship ties with classmates.  Distinctive profiles exist among students who opt for these different teaching modalities.  Those students who are more positively disposed towards in-person classes tend to be younger,  freshmen or sophomores, those experiencing higher stress levels, and those whose physical arrangements at home are not conducive for learning.  Importantly, though, a majority of students say they were inclined towards taking more online course in the future.   

Author Biographies

Peter S Tuckel, Hunter College, CUNY

Department of Sociology


Kate Pok-Carabalona, Hunter. CUNY

Department of Sociology

Adjunct Lecturer


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Section II