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Unpacking online Learning Experiences: online Learning Self-Efficacy and Learning Satisfaction

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Shen D., Cho M., Tsai C. and Marra R., Unpacking online learning experiences: Online learning self-efficacy and learning satisfaction, Internet and Higher Education 19, 2013. 10-17


In “Unpacking Online Learning Experiences: Online Learning Self-Efficacy and Learning Satisfaction,” authors Shen D., Cho M., Tsai C., and Marra R. examined the importance of online learning self-efficacy. They have deepened their research to explore the dimensions of self - efficacy in online learning. Shen, D. et al.; therefore, noted that that majority of previous focused only on one dimension of online self-efficacy; the article, therefore, emphasizes five dimensions of online learning self-efficacy with demographic variables as complement. They  were, therefore, able to disaggregate data to investigate the role of gender in online self-efficiency.


This research is aimed at exploring the dimensions of online self- efficacy in an online learning process. The results are intended to help people understand the importance of self - efficacy so that these dimensions can be identified and used to increase the performance and satisfaction of online learning. In addition, the data covers different groups of people, so that other studies can also help to explore gender differences while studying the dimensions of online self-efficacy. Since “self-efficacy can be a key component of academic success in distance education” (p. 10), this topic is relevant to the study of distance learning.


The results of the study shows that self-efficacy in online learning is multidimensional, with a complex relationship of interconnected factors affecting the attitude of students to their own skills in online classes. In general, gender has been found to be a significant predictor of self - efficacy in completing online courses, handling tools in a Course Management System (CMS) and interacting with instructors. This can mean that female students take a more active approach to learning and seek more help than their male counterparts. The study also found that academic status was not a significant predictor of self - efficacy in completing an online course, nor did it interacted socially with colleagues and instructors, although graduate students were higher than undergraduates when asked about their confidence in using CMS instruments. The number of online courses previously taken by students was a better predictor of peer and teacher interactions, indicating that students with more online platform experience are more likely to collaborate academically with others. Students who could interact with their colleagues also predicted a higher level of satisfaction in learning. While these relationships are noteworthy, there was no explanation for variance in self - efficacy when multiple factors, including gender, number of online classes and academic status, were taken into account at once.

In this study, the authors interviewed 406 online students, with 60% graduate and nearly all the rest were undergraduate (37%), and almost three-quarters (74.1%) of the respondents being female on 120 survey questions to assess the five dimensions of self - efficacy related to the completion of online courses, self – regulation, handling of Course Management System, socializing with peers, and interaction with peers and instructors. Students were asked to place their confidence in the completion of various tasks related to online learning and their satisfaction with the performance of these tasks. The gender of the participating students was evaluated as a possible factor in the self - efficacy of the demographic data collected. Geographically, the pool came from two Midwestern US universities

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