CCE Theses and Dissertations

An Investigation of Learners' Attitudes and Preferences that Relate to Participation in Internet-Based Instruction at Coastal Carolina University

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Ling Wang

Committee Member

John A. Scigliano

Committee Member

Joseph R. Winslow


The purpose of this study was to investigate learners' attitudes and preferences and how they relate to participation in Internet-based instruction at Coastal Carolina University. The study was focused on Generation Y because they behave decidedly different from previous generations. Also, in light of the current fiscal challenges that are ongoing in colleges and universities, it is necessary to explore different avenues that would attract more students to online learning environments (OLE) for many reasons. They include cutting capital costs, attracting more students to distance education formats, and using a profile that catalogs traits favorable to OLEs during advisement.

The goal of the study was to gather empirical evidence that would shed light in revamping and improving ways to increase student enrollment in online distance education classes and understanding attitudes and preferences relating to participation in Internet-based instruction. The researcher also examined how selected demographic variables like age, gender, GPA, student rank, student status, academic major, marital status, and employment status shaped students' attitudes and preferences. To collect data, the researcher developed a survey instrument, which adopted a five-point Likel1-type scale. An expert panel of four individuals tested the validity of the instrument. A reliability test and a factor analysis were carried out. A pilot study was conducted and recommendations for changes to the survey were made prior to the actual study. Collection of data took place primarily online via a unique WebCT server. Hard copies were available but were not used because all participants had Internet and WebCT access.

Descriptive statistics were used to describe the data. Inferential statistics such as tests of significance like I-tests and analysis of variance (ANOYA) were used to test the null hypotheses. Correlation analyses were run to examine any relationships between attitudes and preferences and linear regression was also performed to establish the strength of the relationships between the variables.

The outcomes of this study included a profile of traits with emphasis on Generation Y that would show compatibility with Internet-based instruction. The study results showed significant differences in attitudes and preferences based on selected demographics.

Finally, the results revealed existing relationships between attitudes and preferences.

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