Comparing Student Satisfaction With Distance Education to Traditional Classrooms in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis

Mike Allen
John Bourhis, Missouri State University
Nancy Burrell
Edward Mabry
T. Emmers-Sommer
S. Titsworth


Meta-analysis provides a method of quantitatively summarizing and comparing empirical literature to reduce Type I and Type II error. The meta-analysis described here indicates a slight student preference for a traditional educational format over a distance education format (average r = .031, after the deletion of outliers), and little difference in satisfaction levels. A comparison of distance education methods that include direct interactive links with those that do not include interactive links demonstrates no difference in satisfaction levels. However, student satisfaction levels diminish as additional information is added to the available channel of instruction (e.g., written to audio to video). The findings support those of researchers arguing that distance education does not diminish the level of student satisfaction when compared to traditional face-to-face methods of instruction.