The Effects of Psychological Sense of Community in Online and Face-to-Face Academic Courses

Erika Pigliapoco, A. Bogliolo


Recent studies have shown that the Psychological Sense of Community (PSoC) felt by students plays a key role in affecting their performance, satisfaction and persistence in academic degree programs. Hence, the lower student performance and higher dropout rates suffered by on-line courses in comparison with their face-to-face counterparts are often traced back to lower levels of PSoC caused by the lack of physical interactions among students who learn at a distance. The aim of this work is to understand to what extent the development of PSoC is related with teaching methods and to what extent it affects the learning process. To this purpose, we conduct a comparative analysis between the online and face-to-face versions of the same degree program, differing only for the lack of physical interactions. Multivariate analysis of variance and partial correlations are used both to isolate the effect of the teaching method on PSoC and to point out the effect of PSoC on performance, satisfaction and dropout. The outcomes of the analysis show that similar levels of PSoC and satisfaction are achieved within the two populations and that the differences observed in terms of performance and retention are mainly explained by the different composition of the corresponding cohorts.


Psychological Sense of Community (PSoC); e-learning; learning process; student performance; student satisfaction

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Copyright (c) 2017 Erika Pigliapoco, A. Bogliolo

International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning. ISSN: 1863-0383
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