This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Transactional Distance Versus Student Characteristics and Their Effect on Academic Outcomes




Lebeck, Brian

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this study is to understand the relationship between perceived transactional distance, course satisfaction and student characteristics (demographics, grade point average, previous online experience, self-efficacy, technology self-efficacy, and self-regulated learning), and their combined effect on academic outcomes for students enrolled in distance and blended learning courses at a large Southeastern land-grant university. A hypothesis model was constructed based on existing literature and previous study results. Limited research existed in analyzing the variables simultaneously, thus structural equation modeling was used to validate the theory-based model. The online survey hosted by Qualtrics utilized four self-report measuring instruments: Portions of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993), a modified version of the Online Technology Self-Efficacy Scale (OTSES) (Miltiadou & Yu, 2000), an updated version of Zhang’s (2003) Transactional Distance Scale (Paul, Swart, Zhang & MacLeod, 2015), and portions of Marsh’s (1982) Students’ Evaluation of Education Quality Questionnaire. The study garnered 604 responses from a pool of 5,490 currently enrolled undergraduate/graduate distance education students from a large Southeastern land-grant university. After pre-analysis data screening procedures, a total of 158 cases of the original 604 cases were removed. The final “clean” dataset consisted of 446 cases. The results of the study indicated that individual characteristics play a far more important role in determining academic outcomes than perceived transactional distance. An individual’s characteristics (self-efficacy, metacognitive self-regulation and prior GPA) directly affect academic outcomes. Additionally, self-efficacy and metacognitive self-regulation also directly affect course satisfaction. Whereas, perceived transactional distance directly impacts course satisfaction, but it only has an indirect effect on academic outcomes when self-efficacy and self-regulation serve as mediators.