Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Education and Studies

First Advisor

Gregory S Miller


The study identified the association between student interaction patterns and academic performance in online graduate courses delivered by the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies at Iowa State University. In addition, the study investigated which online course tools were perceived by students to be most useful in learning. The study used both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative study population (n=76) consisted of graduate students who were enrolled in online courses in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies (AGEDS) during Fall 2009 and Spring 2010. Student interactions were extracted by using the "student tracking" tool. Student demographics were obtained from the Director of Graduate Education in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies. Student course grades were collected from the course instructor's records. Focus groups were conducted for collecting the qualitative data and each group consisted of three participants.

The present study found that the most frequent interaction students had within the online course management was reading threaded discussions. Similarly, assignments submission was the area in which students had less frequent interaction within online course management. Furthermore, the association between student interaction and academic performance revealed that students who interacted more frequently with the online course had higher performance than students who interacted less frequently. Undergraduate GPA was the best predictive factor of student academic performance in the online management system. The study also conducted qualitative focus groups to identify learner perceptions regarding using online course tools. The focus group interviews revealed that discussion and content file tools were the most useful and also were the most frequently used online course tools for learning. E-mail and the roster were the least useful online course tools for learning.


Copyright Owner

Aruna Sai Kuna



Date Available


File Format


File Size

116 pages