When I examine the rankings and compare the two groups, I note that one instructor behaviour skyrockets from 7th place in-class to 2nd place in distance online courses: responsiveness. Shown below are four key quotations from distance online students which provide insights into their expectations on the subject of instructor responsiveness:
"If you have to wait WEEKS to get a response from a professor, it can be highly frustrating. Also helps gain trust between the student and instructor. After all, if I can never get a response, it leaves me with little faith that if I ever had a problem with something in the course, the professor would be of any use."
"Responding to postings and questions in a timely fashion is important for students in web courses. Waiting for days or sometimes even weeks to get a response or even worse no response is extremely frustrating. Thankfully there are sometimes other students that can help out."
"Students are online at different times and are completing course material at different rates. Receiving timely feedback on email requires that a professor be available more often than an on-campus professor would be."
". . . it is important that profs make themselves available for students to be able to contact them especially in key points of a term such as midterms, finals and papers. When it comes to web based courses e-mail and telephone comes in to play."After attending this presentation and examining the study paper (found here), I think most of this is common sense. However, it serves to underline that responsiveness is a sensitive issue with distance students. The successful distance instructor will strive to be responsive and available to students in an above average fashion (and, possibly, in increasingly non-traditional timeframes such as weekends) when compared to the in-class instructor. With the popularity of online distance courses steadily rising, clearly, this will have long-term inplications for instructor work-load and work-balance. What do you think?