Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Niki Davis


Distance education and web-based courses are now mainstream in the U.S. higher education involving over 80% of four year public universities and growing (NCES, 2003). This study investigated the relationships between students' characteristics and their perception of web-based learning and satisfaction with distance learning in five Web-based undergraduate biology courses in a Midwestern university. This quantitative study surveyed 279 students and used multivariate statistical techniques. The online survey combined Kolb's (1984) Learning Styles Inventory and Walker's (2003) Distance Education Learning Environment Survey plus demographic questions. The study found that the three dimensions of Moore's Transactional Distance Theory (Moore, 1974) may be linked with Kolb's two dimensional views of individual learning styles. For example, courses with high structure are perceived as more satisfactory by students with "abstract conceptualization" learning style. Based on this finding it is recommended that courses are designed to accommodate multiple learning styles with variety on all dimensions of transactional distance;The findings from this study indicated that in general students were satisfied with their web-based courses. Although there were significant differences in students' perceptions in relation to gender, age, and academic major these significant findings disappeared when course differences taken into consideration. It is recommended that further research replicate this study using random sampling. Alternatively, a more limited study may avoid confounding variables by selecting similar courses, such as using only large introductory biology courses;The number of hours students studied and their perception of science were both significant situational factors. An increase in the hours studied per week and a more positive perception of science were both related to increases in the perception of personal relevance, authentic learning, active learning, and student autonomy, interaction and collaboration. The strength of the effect of study hours varied with the course, such that students in the course that had a collaborative authentic activity as a final course project reported the significantly more study hours and more positive perception of the course. Based on these findings it is recommended that Web-based courses include a variety of learning materials and activities that support differing characteristics and learning styles of students.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Sami Sahin



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

224 pages