Instructor Presence and Student Satisfaction Across Modalities: Survey Data on Student Preferences in Online and On-Campus Courses

  • Rebecca A. Glazier University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Heidi Skurat Harris University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Keywords: online education, survey research, online student, online instructor, online accessibility, face-to-face


Post-COVID-19, many, if not most, college and university instructors teach both online and face-to-face, and, given that online courses historically have higher attrition rates, designing and facilitating effective online courses is key to student retention. Students need online and on-campus courses that are well designed and facilitated, but even well-designed classes can be ineffective if students feel lost in the course or disengaged from the instructor. We surveyed 2,007 undergraduate students at a public, metropolitan university in the United States about the best and worst classes they had taken at the university. The resulting data revealed important consistencies across modalities—such as the importance of clear instructions and instructor availability. However, students responded that instructors matter more in face-to-face courses, where they can establish personal relationships with students, whereas assignments “stand in” for instructors in online classes. These findings support the need for increased faculty professional development in online course design and facilitation focused on student experience as well as faculty expertise.

Author Biography

Rebecca A. Glazier, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Rebecca A. Glazier (@rebeccaglazier) is a political science professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In addition to her research on religion and community engagement, she studies the scholarship of teaching and learning and is passionate about improving the quality of online education. Her research, videos, and public engagement on online education are available on her website, along with information about webinars and consulting:


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How to Cite
Glazier, R. A., & Harris, H. S. (2021). Instructor Presence and Student Satisfaction Across Modalities: Survey Data on Student Preferences in Online and On-Campus Courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(3), 77-98.
Research Articles