The goal of this investigation was to study the perceptions of high school students enrolled in online music classes, and those of their teachers toward nine learning environment characteristics: instructor support, technology, class structure, assessment, student interaction, relevance, student autonomy, opportunities for creativity, and course delivery mode. Collected data allowed the researcher to identify and extrapolate the factors associated with the construct of specific perceptions among participants engaged in an online learning environment.
This study expanded the interdisciplinary breadth of extant learning environment research (LER) by examining the perceptions exhibited by participants in high-school-level online music classes. This research also examined areas of convergence and divergence between the perceptions of students and teachers. Finally, the study examined possible influences of music course content and online course delivery platform on the perceptions of online music students and teachers.
Data was collected in two stages. First, questionnaire responses from teachers and students on the nine learning environment features were analyzed, and a set of follow-up questions for semi-structured online interviews was devised. Second, semi-structured follow-up interviews were conducted via email with selected participants. The interviews both clarified ambiguities found in the initial survey results, and probed more deeply into participants' explanations of their perceptions of the online learning environment.
Results suggested that course structure and teacher's role are important factors influencing student perceptions. Students indicated that for them, advantageous characteristics of online learning were the ability to learn at one's own pace and diminished peer pressure. Participants also noted that extra work is required for online music classes, greater self-discipline is needed, and an ability to work independently is essential. The study found that academic and technical support can influence participant perceptions.
The study suggested that, within this respondent population, divergence between teacher and student perceptions was often due to insufficient communication. In addition, such divergence was not always expressed as opposing viewpoints but as differing, yet complementary perceptions of the same issue. Finally, the study found no relationship between students' perceptions and either subject content or technological course delivery platform.