Online Learning, Vol 23, No 4 (2019)

A Cross-institutional Study of Instructional Characteristics and Student Outcomes: Are Quality Indicators of Online Courses Able to Predict Student Success?

Tanya Joosten, Rachel Cusatis, Lindsey Harness


A study was conducted to examine instructional characteristics and their relationship to student outcomes in online courses at a 2-year and 4-year higher educational institution.  Instructional characteristics included learner support, course design and organization, content design and delivery, interactivity (student-instructor and student-student), and assessment and evaluation.  A student survey instrument was created that captures student perceptions of the instructional characteristics of their course, their learning, and their satisfaction with the course.  The data collected from the student survey was merged with data from institutional student information systems (e.g., demographics and course grade).

This article examines the relationship between these instructional characteristics, sometimes referred to as indicators of online course quality, and their relationship to student outcomes for all students and for underrepresented students.  Significant findings from multiple regression analyses are reported.  Additional analyses were conducted to examine differences among underrepresented students (minorities, first-generation, low-income, students with impairments/disabilities) using MANOVA.  No significant differences are reported.