Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences


Mimi Recker


The objective of this study was to examine the use of frequent, anonymous student course surveys as a tool in supporting continuous quality improvement (CQI) principles in online instruction. The study used a qualitative, multiple-case design involving four separate online courses. Analysis methods included pattern matching/explanation building, time series analysis, and thematic analysis. Findings suggested that instructors used student feedback to make course changes that alleviated technical difficulties, added and clarified content, and contributed to future course changes. Students and instructors responded positively to the opportunity to give and receive anonymous feedback and felt that it helped improve the course. It is uncertain, however, whether using CQI principles had an impact on end-of-semester teacher course quality ratings.

An important finding from the research is that students like to be asked to help improve their learning experience, as long as the instructor listens and responds to their feedback. Evaluation is a valuable component of instructional design theories, which are based on the philosophy that the best designs result from an iterative process. Using a synergistic CQI approach, this study indicates that it is possible for changes to be made more quickly to a course when students are involved in the process. The combination of frequent student feedback with a willing and experienced instructor who can make expert course revision decisions allows the process of course improvement to be enhanced.




This work made publicly available electronically December 22, 2010.