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An Analysis of Variance between Students' Evaluations of Teaching Methods and Styles of Distance and Face-to-Face Classes through the Lens of Transactional Distance Theory Open Access

AbstractThe current study sought to answer the question, is there a significant difference between Distance Education (DE) and traditional face-to-face (F2F) class evaluations on the Individual Development and Educational Assessment (IDEA) survey, examined through the lens of Moore’s Transactional Distance Theory? The twenty teaching methods and styles (TM&S;) included in the IDEA survey data from September 6, 2011 to December 19, 2013 were collected and analyzed for classes identified as SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology through SOC 340 Applied Research, which are offered by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at a Mid-Atlantic Open University. A t-test analysis of variance was conducted and analyzed. The results of the study have indicated that 16 of the 20 TM&S; variables returned significant differences, five of which had medium effect sizes. While three of the TM&S; variables associated with the TDT construct autonomy returned statistically significant results, all three had low effect size magnitudes. The five medium effect size items were #1, the instructor displayed a personal interest in students, #2, the instructor found ways to help the students answer their own questions, #4 the instructor demonstrated the importance and significance of the subject matter (all categorized as autonomy); #6 the instructor made it clear how each item fit into the course; and #10, clear and concise explanations of course material were included (both categorized as structure). Based on the results of the current study, it has been concluded that classes designed with increased structure for the purpose of focusing on the importance and significance of increased levels of dialogue/interaction are characterized to have less TD.

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