Wiley Survey Takes Pulse of Online Learners: 88% Are Satisfied, But Some Concerns Remain

By Henry Kronk
February 19, 2020

While the amount of learners pursuing college courses or degrees online have continued to grow, some have taken for granted how these students are faring. On February 18, Wiley Education Services, in partnership with Aslanian Market Research, released results from a broad survey of online learners studying in one of their programs. The results show a good deal positive experiences—88% of respondents were satisfied with their program. They also indicate continued room for growth, especially when it comes to use of technology and access to human support.

“Student Perspectives on Online Programs: A Survey of Learners Supported by Wiley Education Services,” was published on February 18.

Wiley Polls Its Online Students

While Wiley offers a wide array of education services and products, the survey was delivered via their online program management (OPM) division. During the winter semester of 2019, Wiley polled students at 19 of their institutional partners who were currently enrolled in an online degree managed by the company.

In all, the pollsters received 2,965 complete responses. Students were not incentivized in any way to fill out the survey. Despite this, the sample represented a 25% response rate. 90% of the respondents were pursuing graduate degrees.

These learners primarily studied in five different fields of study: business, education, social work, nursing, and health. All other online learners were represented by an ‘other’ category.

The Good

Besides high rates of satisfaction, online students reported many other positive qualities of their studies. 91% felt challenged to succeed in their studies; 85% felt pushed to keep up with developments in their field; and 90% felt challenged to grow professionally.

One common criticism of online learning is that it creates too much distance between the learners and the support they need to learn adequately. However, in the Wiley study, 81% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they received the resources they need to support their education.

The Bad

But at the same time, 41% of those surveyed indicated that aspects of their degree could be improved. Of these, 22.4% said they could do with more or improved interaction with a university advisor or success coach. Meanwhile, 21.1% said they could use more support from their faculty.

The authors also uncovered issues when it came to social aspects of online courses and interactive group work.

71.4% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “in most team projects, my peers and I worked well together.” Over half—51.7%—agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “finding a study buddy or someone who will help keep you motivated is hard online.”

As a final measure, the pollsters measured ‘net promoter score.’ They asked students to rank how likely, on a scale of 1 to 10, they would be to recommend their program to someone else. Those who answered of 9 or 10 were considered promoters, 7 or 8 were neutral, and 6-1 were detractors. Among respondents 62.5% were promoters, 22.1% were neutral, and 15.4% were detractors.

“Our goal at Wiley Education Services is to partner with schools to produce best-in-class educational opportunities, including impactful online programs, ultimately creating life-long learners,” said Wiley Director of Market Strategy and Research David Capranos, in a statement. “While we are pleased to see respondents are satisfied with our collective programs, learning continues to rapidly change. Wiley is taking the findings in our new report ‘Student Perspectives on Online Learning’ to enhance our partner schools’ offerings and continue to evolve online education programs to meet the demands of learners.”

Featured Image: ptwo, Flickr.