With the rapid pace of online courses’ increasing, enrollment in online courses have rising continuously for several years. “Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term” (Allen & Seaman, 2011).
Comparing to traditional class, online course offers several advantages to students, which include flexibility, adaptability, accessibility and so forth (Borstorff, 2007). For student who has high level of communication apprehension (CA), the most noticeable benefit the one could gain from online course would be communication via computer mediation, which has been called as computer-mediated communication (CMC). Synchronous or asynchronous discussion board, electronic mail, and computer conferences represent the characteristics of CMC in online course (Flaherty, Pearce & Rubin, 2009). With those traits, online course creates a more comfortable learning environment with great equality of participation, idea generation, and low pressure for student (Campbell & Neer, 2001), especially for high CA students, who feel anxiety and uncomfortable to participant in traditional class.
To verify in what degree CMC in online course affects high CA students’ CA level, class involvement, and learning outcome. Pervious researches focus on examining online discussion rates and GPAs of students for testing high CA students’ class involvement and learning outcome. For example the pre-post test conducted by Clark and Jones (2011), they found that CA is insignificant differ between students who have taken the course online and who have taken it in traditional format. The result of this study was supported by Campbell and Neer (2001), besides that they concluded: “high CAs do not view CMC in online courses positively or negatively”. However, with limited samples those studies gained from online responses, more quantity researches are needed.
Overall this paper will begin by presenting the conception of CA, its effects on students’ behavior and preference. Then, the literature related to CMC in online course will be reviewed. Researches associated with comparison of two formats of classes will also be discussed. Following those literatures, this study tends to figure out two questions: (1) the main reason of student to choose one type of class rather than the other; (2) what the effects of CMC in online course on high CA student by conducting a pre-post test with questionnaire on college students.
CA in traditional class
CA refers to “an individual’s level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons” (McCroskey, 1984). High CA individual tends to shyness, unwilling to communication, introversion, reticence and stage fright (McCroskey, 1984; Allen & Bourhis, 1995; Wrenchm, McCroskey, Brogan & Jowi, 2008).
As for student who has high level of CA tends to talk less, less likely to engage in interaction activity with peers, and has relatively low satisfy of...