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1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Distance learning, sometimes called e-learning, is a formalized teaching and learning system specifically designed to be carried out remotely by using electronic communication. Because distance learning is less expensive to support and is not constrained by geographic considerations, it offers opportunities in situations where traditional education has difficulty operating. Students with scheduling or distance problems can benefit, as can employees, because distance education can be more flexible in terms of time and can be delivered virtually anywhere (Wikipedia, 2015).
Studies indicate that distance learning can be as effective as the traditional format and even more satisfactory to students when the methods are appropriate to the teaching tasks, there is student-teacher interaction, and the teachers provide students with appropriate and timely feedback.
Distance education has become widespread in the past 10 years. Universities andcorporations are seeking to become involved in this ‘‘re-invented’’ form of education.The total enrollment in courses delivered through various forms of distanceeducation between 1997 and 1998 has been estimated at 1.6 million students.
Higher education has become a booming business with annual revenues of 225 billiondollars in 1999. It appears that universities, corporations and governments areprofiting from this new learning environment.Considering that more people are pursuing a second degree after earning abaccalaureate,and more full-time employees are seeking to advance their careersby taking training courses, it is important to investigate the level of student satisfaction with the learning environment as the market will continue to grow.
Student satisfaction is an important indicator of the quality of learning experiences (Moore &Kearsley, 1996; Yukselturk&Yildirim, 2008). It is worthwhile to investigate student satisfaction in distance learning settings because new technologies have altered the way that students interact with instructors and classmates (Kaminski, Switzer, &Gloeckner, 2009). The quality of interaction in distance learning settings may depend to a large extent on the technology tools utilized during learning (Parsad& Lewis, 2008). Lack of confidence in using information and communication technology (ICT) may decrease students’ satisfaction during distance learning instruction and in turn lower their performance. As opposed to face-to-face instruction, the nature of distance learning demands greater responsibility on the part of learners (Moore &Kearsley, 1996). Distance learners who are unable to regulate learning efficiently are unlikely to be satisfied (Artino, 2007; Puzziferro, 2008).
However, learning environment studies remain positivistic in nature with the use of instruments to measure the learners' perceptions and then imposing guidelines for the development of the learning environment though various support elements have been suggested by authors (Walker, 2002,Jegede, Fraser & Fisher, 1998)
In this study, distance learning environment signifies a networked environment where learning activities occur while the instructor and the learner are separated by location and/or time. The researcher will investigate the level of student’s satisfaction with the learning environment in Distance learning.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Reasons why some students lose interest in a classhas been at the center stage of discussion in the recent times. Given the potential for the introduction of quality deficiency wheninstituting these new technologies used in distance learning programs, it becomes imperative to monitor and report actualoutcomes of the use of such technologies. This study addresses these outcomes of theuse of technologies in distance learning from the students’ perspective ion terms of satisfaction.
Past studies haveexamined attributes associated with student satisfaction. However, the attributesexamined in each of these studies have been limited. Previous literature has focusedupon one or two components of satisfaction, whereas the literature suggests there are amultitude of variables affecting satisfaction and additional variables associated withsatisfaction in distance learning environment. Since the Internet and the use of ICT technology is employed in the course structure of distance learning, additional problems may arise ranging from student’s perception of the technology as assisting or impeding the learning process. However the researcher will find out the determinants of student satisfaction in a distance learning environment and determine their level of satisfaction with such environment.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To ascertain the level of student’s satisfaction with the learning environment in distance learning Universities in Nigeria.
- To examine the determinants of students satisfaction in a distance learning environment.
- To analyze the factors that can enhance students satisfaction in a distance learning university.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the level of student’s satisfaction with the learning environment in distance learning Universities in Nigeria?
- What are the determinants of student’s satisfaction in a distance learning environment?
- What are the factors that can enhance students satisfaction in a distance learning university?
HO: Students are not satisfied with the learning environment in distance learning university in Nigeria.
HA: Students are satisfied with the learning environment in distance learning university in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
- This study will be useful for policy makers in education sector on the challenges faced by students that is associated with the learning environment in distance learning universities. This will also prepare students to cope with any challenges faced as a result of the gap created by the distance between the lecturer and the students.
- This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied, it will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study on student’s satisfaction with learning environment in distance learning universities in Nigeria will cover all the situations related to the learning environment faced by the students of distance learning universities in Nigeria which will be assessed based on the student’s level of satisfaction.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Student: a person who is studying at a university or other place of higher education
Learning Environment: refers to the diverse physical locations, contexts, and cultures in which students learn. Since students may learn in a wide variety of settings, such as outside-of-school locations and outdoor environments, the term is often used as a more accurate or preferred alternative to classroom, which has more limited and traditional connotations—a room with rows of desks and a chalkboard, for example.
Satisfaction: fulfillment of one's wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.
Distance: make (someone or something) far off or remote in position or nature.
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