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