The Successful Online Student

Every semester for my online courses, I create a Google form as a getting-to-know-you survey to be completed during the first week of the term.

This time around, I added statements from Fairmont University’s “Characteristics of a Successful Online Student,” especially the bulleted list of statements at the bottom of the page.  Complete attribution was included in the survey description.

I was curious to see what each group of students would say. Here’s what 25 survey participants in my 1000-level Technical Writing class, filled mostly with freshmen and sophomores across various disciplines (but a majority in engineering), had to say about procrastination and missing the face-to-face environment:

two pie charts showing 1000 level students thoughts on procrastination and face to face environment

84% state that they may have procrastination issues, and 64% have reservations about losing face time with the instructor and peers. Most students chose the middle ground, “sort of me.”

By contrast, here’s what my upper-level Professional Writing course, filled primarily with pre-service teachers, political science, and English majors, responded. Yes, I’m well aware that I forced one group into three ranking choices while the other got five!

two pie charts showing upper level students thoughts on procrastination and face to face learning

Pie charts created in and exported from Google slides

Over half of the respondents suffer from procrastination to some degree (and more students felt comfortable with “agree” than “strongly agree”), and fewer of these upper-level, advanced students feel they struggle with putting off work compared to the cohort in my admittedly very different lower-level, core curriculum writing class.

Really, about the same percentages have positive, negative, and neutral attitudes towards the value of face-to-face interactions, with perhaps more of the upper-level students not missing that traditional classroom experience.

In no way am I suggesting that my dinky little survey shows that students procrastinate less and gather more self-directed confidence as they progress through college. That would be just swell if it were the case, however!


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