The purpose of the study was to determine if online courses that were faculty peer reviewed based on five factors of quality instruction resulted in increased levels of student satisfaction and higher rates of student retention when compared with nonreviewed courses in a post-secondary context. The five factors of quality online instruction used in the study were: outcomes, assessment, resource materials, student interaction, and technology. The study utilized a quasi-experimental method with an
online questionnaire administered to 455 student participants from nine community colleges in Maryland and Oregon. Students were enrolled in 41 online courses that were either formally faculty peer reviewed or not. The study posed four research questions. The first two study questions compared peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed courses in terms of student satisfaction and student retention. The second two questions used a
regression analysis to order the contribution of the factors of quality online instruction related to student satisfaction and retention in peer reviewed courses.
The results of the study findings were categorized into three areas: (1) student retention findings, (2) student satisfaction findings, and (3) factors of quality instruction influencing student satisfaction findings. First, no significance was found in the relationship of faculty peer review to increased student retention. Second, a significant relationship was found in the use of the faculty peer review process and increased student
satisfaction. Third, a stepwise regression analysis revealed there was significance found in the order and contribution of each of the five factors of online quality as predictive of
increased student satisfaction in reviewed courses. This order was: (1) resource materials, (2) assessment, (3) technology, (4) outcomes, and (5) student interactions. Findings from the study provided the basis for four recommendations related to educational and professional practice. These recommendations focused on: accreditation standards associated with online learning and college self-studies, criteria for institutional funding models in online course development, use of study questionnaire for instructional quality assessment purposes, and quality improvement processes related to the Baldridge Education Criteria.
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