Perceptions of Undergraduate Students of Student-Regulated Online Courses


Economics, Finance and Quantitative Analysis

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-1-2018


Undergraduate students at a large, public, southeastern university enrolled in one of two independent, fully-online courses were released from the instructor-regulated structure mid-semester. Subsequently, the course was structured as student-regulated and students self-managed pace of study and timing of assessments for the remainder of the course. The objective of the research is to assess student preferences in learning structure (instructor-regulated versus student-regulated) in order to inform effective course design options in the online learning environment. At the end of each semester included in the study, a survey was administered to ascertain students’ perceptions of the student-regulated (self-paced) learning environment. After analyzing the survey results, but before drawing final conclusions, it was acknowledged that student preferences might be skewed if coupled with altered performance in the course, real or perceived. Therefore, student performance was evaluated to ensure neutrality in this component. To this end, exam grades were collected over multiple semesters based on the original instructor-regulated structure (control group) together with the student-regulated structure (study group) and analyzed to compare mean grade performance between the two learning formats. Results indicated that the slight decline in grades for the self-paced students were not statistically significant. Given the benign performance results, the survey results were analyzed for statistical reliability and revealed a strong student preference for the self-paced online structure. The survey and grade performance results were compared against other research literature on online learning. Issues relating to incompatibility of student-paced flexibility and group-based assignments are also presented. Implications and opportunities for increasing student-regulated learning in online course design are addressed.


The Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration





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