Student Satisfaction & Distance Learning: Thoughts and Tips

Online LearnerStudent satisfaction is an important component of a successful distance learning experience, and you can increase student satisfaction with quality content, effective course design, and frequent interaction opportunities. This short post will offer some tips on how you can boost student satisfaction rates in your courses – doing so will increase the chances students recommend your course to others, and up the chances your students will sign up for more content in the future.

First, though, a tiny bit of research: Several authors, including DeBourgh (2003) and Wang (2003) have explored the concept of student satisfaction in distance learning. Generally, research on the subject suggests a correlation between satisfaction and effective pedagogy (DeBourgh, 2003) and also between satisfaction and reuse intention (Wang, 2003). In simple terms, these authors obtained evidence indicating students are (a) more satisfied with well-designed courses and (b) are more likely to reuse an online interface if they are satisfied with a course they completed. To come to his conclusions, DeBourgh obtained data from 43 students enrolled in a semester-long distance learning class. After analyzing the students’ survey responses, DeBourgh opined that the quality and effectiveness of the instructor and course content are the primary factors that are most responsible for student satisfaction in an online course.

While this seems obvious – good material + a good instructor = a good course – it is quite difficult to build and teach quality, effective distance learning content. Based on these results, here are a few tips you can use to improve your students’ satisfaction levels:

1. Develop Quality Content: For your Law Enforcement Learning courses, this really refers to image, video, and audio quality. As you are producing your own content and using your own equipment, you’re probably dealing with sound quality issues, video lighting snags, and searching for the best images to use in your courses. While you’re learning there is a bit of a learning curve associated with producing decent video and audio, take the time to do so. Better quality audio and video help students concentrate on the content, not the presentation, and positively impact satisfaction rates. If you’re struggling with sound or video quality, check out the How to Build a Law Enforcement Learning course and try some of our suggestions.

2. Pay Attention to Design: Distance learning courses are fundamentally different than in-person courses, and your course designs should reflect current cultural and educational trends. Video and short presentations are in, and lengthy documents are out. Determine what your audience needs and how they’d like it delivered, and design your course to account for specific content types. We can help with design, so let us know if you have issues and we’ll work with you to build an instructionally-sound, engaging class.

3. Interact Frequently with Students: In your classes, you can use synchronous video, asynchronous discussion boards, and individual or class messages to communicate with your students. Use these resources – you are the expert in your topic, and your students would love to interact with you. Set up times for video presentations, use the discussion board, and keep communicating. Your students will appreciate it, and your course will be better because of it.

These are just three of a huge list of ways you can increase student satisfaction with your courses. We’ve found, however, that these are the most obvious items that impact student experiences, so keep these in mind as you design and deliver your courses. Good luck, and let us know what we can do to help.

The Law Enforcement Learning Team

DeBourgh, G. (2003). Predictors of student satisfaction in distance-delivered graduate nursing courses: what matters most?, Journal of Professional Nursing, 19(3), 149-163.

Wang, Yi-Shun. (2003). Assessment of learner satisfaction with asynchronous electronic learning systems, Information & Management, 41(1), 75-86.