Exploring Relationships Between Student Perceptions in the Distance Learning Environment and Affective, Cognitive, and Motivational Learning Outcomes
Heron, Audrey B
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As instructional effectiveness is a global issue, the growth of online education has created the need to take a closer look at elements in distance learning environments that impact students' learning outcomes. The purpose of this study was to use self-determination theory to examine learners' perceptions of distance education learning environments, as measured by their perceptions of instructor support, student collaborative interaction, personal relevance, authenticity of learning, active learning, and autonomy, to identify significant predictors of affective and cognitive learning outcomes. This study employed a correlational research design, in which graduate students in online courses at a higher education institution in Texas were surveyed to gather quantitative data on their perceptions of their online learning environments. Results of a forward regression analysis indicated that personal relevance and instructor support were significant predictors of students' satisfaction and that personal relevance, instructor support, authentic learning, and student autonomy were significant predictors of students' perceptions of knowledge acquisition. Results of a hierarchical regression indicated that while relatedness did not make a significant contribution to predicting students' satisfaction when variables associated with autonomy and competence, the needs essential for intrinsic motivation, were held constant, it did contribute to predicting perceptions of knowledge acquisition. These findings offer those in the field of distance education a better understanding of online students' motivation, perceptions, and learning outcome and provide practical suggestions and theoretical contributions.