A shocking difference between online and traditional students

The report emphasizes that faculty members and higher-ed administrators should evaluate whether courses can be taught online and whether students be “allowed to take online courses.”

To help institutions better identify practices for online students, the researchers developed two tables: Students choosing online classes for convenience and students choosing online classes for personal preferences:


PP: PP are extroverts who enjoy developing social relationships. When a PP profile has to enroll in an online course, he/she can fit in group-oriented courses aiming to develop the social relations between the participants.

PN: PN are introverts showing unsatisfactory interpersonal relationships in face-to-face contexts but could benefit from online courses where they can be more uninhibited in online interactions.

PH: When personal and professional ties force a PH student to enroll in online courses, they should look for practical rather than content-based methodologies. MOOCs could be a solution for PH profiles that are forced to study online. Also recommended is game-based learning and collaborative elements such as forums and group work courses.

PF: PF has been related to difficulties with information and communication technologies, and a desire for innovation and self-control. PF enrolling online HE programs for convenience should benefit from easy-to-use Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) and Online Educational Resources (OER), such as content based on videoconferences and interactive quizzes. PF profiles are better adapted to lecture-based methodologies rather than in group or collaborative learning activities, where they show more difficulties and dropout more often.

FTP: Future oriented individuals could need to engage in online contexts due to the need of lifelong learning in order to advance in their career. Instructional designers could use future orientation as a critical factor for promoting increased proximal motivation in online students.


PP: Could equally attend online and onsite courses, however PP students have shown preference for onsite classes in various studies because their extrovert profile tends toward social relations and the sense of belonging facilitated by the student’s proximity in traditional face-to-face programs.

PN: The PN orientation is significantly higher for online students. PN are usually introverts that can benefit from computer-mediated communication to uninhibited. Online education could fit their PN profile, but probably won’t help them to “overcome their introversion.”

PH: PH tend to prefer onsite classes, social interchange and communication. However, highly interactive online courses, involving active learning methodologies such Game Based Learning and collaborative learning could also fit the PH seeking for immediate gratification, feedback and interaction.

PF: PF profiles tend to be passive, and thus could have a preference for lecture-based methodologies; however, these methodologies are also found in some online learning courses that are lecture-based. The study observed that online students have lower PF than onsite students.

FTP: FTP students are prone to delay gratifications to achieve their goals in both onsite and online learning programs. Students with a future orientation may feel more comfortable in both types of programs.

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