Profiles of Online Students and the Impact of Their University Experience
In recent decades, there has been a steady growth in the population who enter higher education in both brick-and-mortar and, in particular, online universities. This has led to an increase in heterogeneous student profiles in a relatively short period of time. The purpose of this paper was to explore the student profiles at a university that gives all its courses online, namely the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), and analyse students’ perceptions of their university experience. With this goal in mind, we constructed a student typology based on their social conditions and backgrounds using multiple correspondence analysis. Subsequently, an analysis of variance (Kruskall-Wallis test) was run to detect whether there were any differences in students’ perceptions of the impact of their university experience (N = 1850). Although the prevailing profile of students in the online university continues to reflect students with responsibilities outside of the university (e.g., work and/or family), new profiles have been observed, made up of younger students without any work or family responsibilities. In turn, younger students’ distinct perceptions of their university experience has been observed, depending on student profiles, with older students having more intrinsic perceptions, focused on learning and the acquisition of theoretical knowledge.
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