Stability of Attitudes and Participation in Online University Courses: Gender and Location Effects

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Computers & Education

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Learning and knowledge creation in higher education is increasingly supported and enhanced by participation in online courses. Current participation theories insufficiently explain the influence of individual factors such as students' attitudes towards online courses during the learning process. Moreover, the role of students' gender and location needs additional clarification. Hence, this study examines the stability and interrelationship of students' attitudes and participation during online university courses, and the moderating influence of gender and location. The participation of N = 156 graduate students engaged in online courses was assessed based on the employed learning script, and their attitudes toward the courses were measured by questionnaire survey at six data points. Students' attitudes were largely stable throughout the courses; their participation was less stable, following the online course script. Surprisingly, no significant correlation between attitudes and participation could be identified. Gender effects comprised male students' more stable attitudes, and female students' more stable participation. Location effects resulted in higher stability of both attitudes and participation of remote students, although their participation was lower as compared to local students. These results point at possible critical individual aspects of online learning. For educational research, they suggest a re-conceptualization of attitude theories and models in online settings.