Student perceptions and instructional evaluations: A multivariate analysis of online and face-to-face classroom settings

Research paper by Billy R. Brocato, Alessandro Bonanno, Stacy Ulbig

Indexed on: 22 Jun '13Published on: 22 Jun '13Published in: Education and Information Technologies


This study examined students’ evaluations of faculty performance in traditional and online classes. The study design builds upon prior research that addressed socially relevant factors such as classroom environments, students’ learning goals, expected, and received grades, and more importantly, students’ ratings of instructors’ performance. The sample consists of data from a population of humanities and social sciences faculty from a medium-sized southwest undergraduate university who taught both online and traditional classes during the semester periods Fall 2010 to Spring 2012. In a traditional setting, the evaluation factors (develops rapport with students, stimulates students, challenges student learning, provides timely feedback, and teaches fundamentals), and the external factors—(course level taught and gender)—were found to significantly contribute to faculty summary scores. In an online class, students consistently rank female instructors better. However, the evaluation criteria—develops student rapport, stimulates students, provides timely feedback, and teaches fundamentals (though not ‘challenges and involves students in their learning’)—mirrored the same affects observed in the traditional classroom evaluations. The finding that “teaches fundamentals” received the largest standardized beta-coefficient in both classrooms further confirms earlier research that university students perceive course mastery as a major indicator of instructor performance regardless of gender or rank. However, the results indicate that students’ perceptions are different when attending a traditional versus online classroom setting. This infers that synchronous and asynchronous settings require different teaching styles and different evaluation criteria.