Student Perceptions of Online Learning: An Analysis of Online Course Evaluations

Patrick Lowenthal, Boise State University
Christine Bauer, Boise State University
Ken-Zen Chen, Boise State University


Student evaluations of teaching provide a wealth of information about students’ experiences in higher education. Colleges and universities, though, as a whole, need to spend more time mining these evaluations to better understand student perceptions of their college coursework. These evaluations are especially helpful to better understand students’ experiences in online courses, which, despite continued growth, are still relatively new for most faculty and students. The analysis of seven years of student evaluations at a metropolitan research university is presented in the following article. The purpose of the analysis was to better discern students’ experiences online as well as to address commonly held assumptions about online learning (e.g., that teaching evaluations are lower for online courses). Results indicate that students in this sample actually do rate online courses lower than face-to-face courses. The article concludes with situating these results in the larger student evaluation literature as well as addressing larger implications of these results for practice.