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PEDAR: Executive Summary A Profile of Participation in Distance Education: 1999-2000
Student Participation in Distance Education
Participation of Undergraduates
Participation of Graduate and First-Professional Students
Distance Education Delivery
Satisfaction With Distance Education
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

During the 1990s, distance education availability, course offerings, and enrollments increased rapidly. The percentage of 2- and 4-year degree-granting institutions offering distance education courses rose from 33 to 44 percent between 1995 and 1997, and the number of such courses nearly doubled. In 1997, one-fifth of the nation’s 2- and 4-year degree-granting institutions also planned to start offering distance education courses in the next 3 years (Lewis et al. 1999). While previous reports have studied institutional (Lewis et al. 1999) and faculty (Bradburn 2002) participation in distance education, this report focuses on student participation. This report examines the participation of undergraduate and graduate students in distance education.

Students responding to the 1999–2000 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:2000) were asked, "During the 1999–2000 school year, did you take any courses for credit that were distance education courses? By distance education, I mean courses delivered off campus using live, interactive TV or audio; prerecorded TV or audio; CD-ROM; or a computer-based system such as the Internet, e-mail, or chat rooms." Students who reported taking distance education courses were asked about their experiences with distance education.

This report uses data from NPSAS:2000 to address several research questions:

  • Which students participated in distance education in 1999–2000? Were any student characteristics related to participation in distance education?
  • Which types of technology did students use to take their distance education courses?
  • How satisfied were students with their distance education courses?

Students’ overall participation, as well as their participation by type of distance education technology, is examined in terms of numerous student characteristics, including demographics (such as gender, race/ethnicity, and age); indicators of socioeconomic status (such as parents’ highest level of education and students’ family income); family status (marital status and whether students had dependent children); institution and academic characteristics (such as institution type, and students’ class level, degree program, and field of study); and employment characteristics. This report also includes a multivariate analysis that shows how various student characteristics were related to participation in distance education after controlling for the covariation of related variables.

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