The Online Environment – Are students satisfied with online learning?

From the student perspective, a 2014 National Online Learners Priorities Report (conducted by Noel-Levitz) investigated the satisfaction and priorities of students in online courses. The report surveyed more than 122,000 students from 117 institutions, from fall 2011 through spring 2014. Nearly 80,000 were undergraduate students (66%) and more than 36,000 (30%) were graduate-level students. The remaining 4% listed their class level as “other.”

Key findings from this report: [6]

  • 73% were satisfied with their online learning experience.
  • 74% would re-enroll in their current online program.
  • Overall, satisfaction and re-enrollment numbers have held steady over the past three years.
  • “However, there are still approximately one-quarter of the students who were not satisfied or would not re-enroll in their current program if they had to do their online learning experience all over again” (p. 2).

Therefore, it is important to find out what contributes to student satisfaction and what areas need to be addressed.


  1. Allen, I. E., Seaman, J., Poulin, R., & Straut, T. T. (2016). Online report card: Tracking online education in the United States (Rep.). Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved from
  2. Ruffalo Noel Levitz (2016). 2015-16 national online learners satisfaction and priorities report. Cedar Rapids: Ruffalo Noel Levitz.
  3. No Significant Difference. Presented by WCET (2016, March 14. Retrieved from
  4. Seaman, J. (2009). Online Learning as a Strategic Asset. Volume II: The Paradox of Faculty Voices–Views and Experiences with Online Learning. Results of a National Faculty Survey, Part of the Online Education Benchmarking Study Conducted by the APLU-Sloan National Commission on Online Learning. Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
  5. Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. US Department of Education
  6. Noel-Levitz (2014). 2015-2016 national online learners priorities report. Coralville, IA.
  7. Shea, P., Swan, K., Fredericksen, E., and Pickett, A. (2001). Student satisfaction and reported learning in the SUNY learning network: Interaction and beyond – social presence in asynchronous learning networks. In Bourne, J., and Moore, J. (Eds.), Elements of Quality Online Education. (pp.145-56). Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education. Retrieved from