Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Ann Thompson


Virtual learning is expanding rapidly at the high school level, but little is understood about the high school student perspective in virtual classes. This dissertation consists of three articles that examine that subject. The first article is a review of the literature, which indicates that there are concerns about virtual learning from the student, teacher, and institutional perspectives.;The second article describes a case study approach to gaining a richer understanding of the student experience in a virtual class. This particular case focused on two seniors taking a science course from another high school via two-way interactive video. This experience was not a positive one for the students; the case study describes many factors that, in combination, created an environment that was not conducive to successful virtual learning.;The third article details a descriptive study in which a survey was developed and distributed to students in virtual classes in over 100 high schools in the state of Iowa. Two-thirds (67%) of the students responding to the survey were female, and 63% of the classes were taken from community colleges. Over 83% of these courses were taught through the Iowa Communications Network (ICN), and browser-based classes made up 15% of the total.;Three common reasons were given for taking the virtual classes: (1) their school did not offer this class, (2) this gave them a head start on college and/or their career, and (3) they received free college credit. Lecture was listed by 69% as the primary teaching method used in the class. Most students indicated that the experience was a positive one, and 76% said that they would take the class again. Those who said they would not take the class again most frequently mentioned concerns about the teaching methods and the lack of face-to-face contact with the teacher. Perceived learning was a strong predictor of course satisfaction. Of those who felt they learned more in the virtual class than in their face-to-face classes, 97% said they would take the class again. Among those who perceived they learned less, only 38% indicated they would take the class again.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lance Alan Wilhelm



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

219 pages