In order to justify this line of research the authors pointed to several reason (Orellana, 2006). One was very basic, little research had been done on the topic and most of the information available is in the form of anecdotal reports. In addition, magnitude of online education points to the need for more research. The cost of online education, combined with the numbers of students involved, clearly justify this line of research.
The primary audience for this research are policymakers. These individuals are not directly responsible for delivering the online education; however, they decide the class size for the online classes. These individuals range from those in Accreditation bodies to University administrator, as well as department chairs. Each level makes decisions that influence the practical size of online classes.
The literature review serves to provide a background for the topic as well as to clearly convey why the research is useful. The author described previous research into the topic as well as current standards for accreditation of online programs. The information presented set a good foundation for the current study. The author stated at the end of the literature review that the goal of the current study was to determine the perceptions of instructors on optimal class size and how it related to interactions during online courses. This information would be very beneficial to those involved in setting policies for online courses.
As the author stated, the purpose was “to determine instructors perceptions of optimal class size” (Orellana, 2006, p. 230). The classes being addressed were online classes and the author was interested in the best class size for various levels of interactions. The information about the methodology of the study was discussed in the Methods section of the paper. When the author stated the purpose, the specifics were not mentioned. However, the rubric used to gauge interaction was discussed.
The research questions for the current study are as follows:
“What are typical class sizes of online courses?” (Orellana, 2006, p. 237). This question is descriptive. It asks about a typical class and one characteristic, size.
“What are typical levels of interactive qualities in online courses?” (Orellana, 2006, p. 239). Again, this question is descriptive. The researcher wants to know about the typical online class and the levels of interactiveness.
“What are instructors’ perceptions of optimal class sizes for online courses with different levels of interactive qualities?” (Orellana, 2006, p. 240). This too is descriptive. The information sought is about the perceptions of instructors.
However, the author does not simply present the findings as descriptive alone. Each of the questions are, in turn, looked at using the information collected by the researcher. For example, typical class size seems like a fairly simple and straight forward question. Yet, the author is able to break it down into the type of...