The Effect of Software Facilitated Communication on Student Outcomes in Online Classes

Stuart S. Gold, DeVry University Online


This research project examined the question of the relationship between the frequency and method of software-facilitated communication employed and the student outcomes achieved in online university courses. This question directly addressed the issues of 1) the increasing focus by businesses on maximizing their employees’ educational outcomes and leveraging the corporation’s investment and 2) identifying Management Information Systems that support improved student outcomes. The research project was comprised of three related research studies, a preliminary proof of concept, a large-scale study and a validation study to provide a further measure of reliability and validity. The three studies combined incorporated data from 116 online courses and over 1700 students. The results indicate that there is a statistically significant relationship between the method of software-facilitated communication utilized (basic or advanced) and the student final exam grade. The results of the research project indicated that the use of advanced software facilitated communication features, which provide an environment that fosters more sophisticated and feature rich interaction, is important in terms of determining student outcomes. It is not sufficient to create online interaction; rather it is the inherent quality of that interaction which is important in determining student outcomes.

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