Date of Award

Winter 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

Michael F. Kosloski, Jr.

Committee Member

John M. Ritz

Committee Member

Jill E. Stefaniak


Career and technical education (CTE) courses offered online are becoming more common in secondary schools. Recognizing the adaptability of CTE courses and designing curricula to offer online learners the same experience as face-to-face learners is challenging for education professionals and requires analyses of both environments. A lack of empirical studies makes it important to conduct research on online learning environments from the perspectives of high school students.

This study analyzes student perceptions of the psychosocial learning environment in online and face-to-face career and technical education courses. The research explores and compares how high school students perceive their learning environment and should help online course developers in the preparation of effective courses.

This study used existing survey data from a school district in Washington State from the 2013/2014 school year. The instrument used in this study was the Distance Education Learning Environment Survey (DELES) which was modified and revalidated for use with high school students. Statistical analysis included an examination of the sum of the mean scores and standard deviations of the survey's seven scale areas using face-to-face and online student data. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to measure variability and compare the sum of the mean scores of each of the scales between online and face-to-face environments to determine if differences exist.

Analysis of the data from this study indicated that in the areas of active learning and autonomy, students perceived online education as offering more benefit than face-to-face education. In the areas of student interaction and collaboration and enjoyment, student perceptions favored the face-to-face environment.


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