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Class Size and Interaction in Online Courses

Quarterly Review of Distance Education Volume 7, Number 3, ISSN 1528-3518


This article presents findings of a study conducted to determine instructors' perceptions of optimal class sizes for online courses with different levels of interaction. Implications for research and practice are also presented. A Web-based survey method was employed. Online courses studied were those taught sometime in the last 5 years by a single instructor in undergraduate or graduate programs from U.S. higher education institutions. Instructors described the level of interactive qualities in their most recently taught online course using a Web version of Roblyer and Wiencke's (2004) Rubric for Assessing Interactive Qualities in Distance Courses, and they indicated optimal class sizes according to such qualities. Responses from 131 instructors were analyzed. On average (a) instructors described their online courses as highly interactive, (b) the actual class size of the online courses was 22.8, (c) a class size of 18.9 was perceived as optimal to better achieve the course's actual level of interaction, and (d) a class size of 15.9 was perceived as optimal to achieve the highest level of interaction. No relationship was found between online courses' actual class sizes and their actual level of interaction. (Contains 5 tables.)


Orellana, A. (2006). Class Size and Interaction in Online Courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 7(3), 229-248. Retrieved May 28, 2020 from .

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