What is it about?

A stream of research identifying predictors of e-learning success over the past decade suggests that there are several critical success factors (CSFs) that must be managed effectively to fully realize promise for e-learning. Grounded in constructivist learning theories, we advance previous work on CSFs in university online education. Findings indicated that instructor-student dialogue, student-student dialogue, instructor, and course design significantly affected students’ satisfaction and learning outcomes. Finally, intrinsic student motivation affected learning outcomes but not user satisfaction. The findings suggest that course design, instructor, and dialogue were the strongest predictors of user satisfaction and learning outcomes.

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Why is it important?

Our study makes a number of significant contributions to literature on the effectiveness of e-learning systems. First, we extracted several pivotal constructs to build our research model empirically to be tested: self-regulated learning, motivation, instructor, dialogue, and course design, based on the review of the constructivist learning models (Table 1). Second, the study examined the strength and importance of a set of pivotal factors of e-learning success in terms of perceived learning outcomes and students’ satisfaction – roles of the instructor (as active facilitator, intellectual stimulator, care-taker, and feedback provider), course design, and dialogue.


The results of the current study have significant implications for distance educators and administrators. First, a clear and strong message to administrators is that instructors are a corner stone of university online education. Re-educating instructors to continuously improve their skills and knowledge so that they can perform better as course designers, discussion/technology facilitators, and motivators is paramount. Second, course design/structure is another corner stone of university online education. The instructor is responsible for the majority of the categories and standards to maintain quality and be certifiable. The primary responsibility for maintaining the quality of some categories such as course technology, learner support goes to administrators.

Professor sean b eom
Southeast Missouri State University

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This page is a summary of: The Determinants of Students’ Perceived Learning Outcomes and Satisfaction in University Online Education: An Update*, Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, April 2016, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/dsji.12097.
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