Luo, Robinson & Detwiler

Effect of Geographic Distance on Distance Education: An Empirical Study

Heng Luo, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, State College, Pennsylvania, USA
Anthony C. Robinson, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, State College, Pennsylvania, USA
Jim Detwiler, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, State College, Pennsylvania, USA

Abstract

This study investigates the effect of geographic distance on students’ distance learning experience with the aim to provide tentative answers to a fundamental question – does geographic distance matter in distance education? Using educational outcome data collected from an online master’s program in Geographic Information Systems, this study calculates the distance between students’ residences and the program location, and employs three hierarchical multiple regression models to examine how well geographic distance can predict a student’s online learning performance, satisfaction with the program, and length of time to complete, when controlling for other relevant factors. Our research findings provide empirical evidence to support the claim that the development of information and communication
technologies (ICTs) has in fact overcome the potential barriers that may be associated with distance in education and has provided an effective bridge between students and educational programs. The study also reveals interesting discoveries regarding the relationship between students’ distance learning experience and certain student characteristics such as age, gender, and previous academic achievement.

Keywords:

distance education, online learning, geographic distance, prediction model


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