Evaluation of Online Graduate Epidemiology Instruction and Student Outcomes

Jacqueline Knapke, Erin Haynes, Julie Breen, Pierce Kuhnell, Laura Smith, Jareen Meinzen-Derr


In the last two decades, online learning has transformed the field of higher education. Also during this time, institutions of higher education have seen increases in their adult learner populations. The flexibility and accessibility of an online education model is often particularly appealing to adult learners, who bring unique needs, expectations, and learning styles to their educational experiences. Using Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory and Knowles’ andragogy model as theoretical frameworks, this study evaluates an online graduate course in epidemiology in terms of the demographics, learning styles, satisfaction, and achievement of students. Comparing the online course to the same, land-based course that was offered concurrently, we found no differences between students’ learning styles, satisfaction, and overall achievement. However, students in the land-based class were more likely to be matriculated into a degree program (p<0.005), more likely to be full-time students (p<0.002), and more likely to work part-time or not at all (p<0.002). These findings provide evidence that student preferences for method of content delivery are correlated to lifestyle factors and not age, previous experiences, or learning styles.


learning styles, andragogy, graduate education, adult learning, distance learning, epidemiology, web-based learning, student outcomes, student satisfaction

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v20i4.737