Ryan Griske


This thesis discusses the current controversial issue of traditional classroom vs. distance learning approaches in higher education institutions using a case study in the College of Applied Science and Technology at RIT. The most important question addressed in the thesis is, "Are distance learning methods effective for addressing university-level learning goals?" (Kathleen Davey, 1999, p. 45). There are currently many disputes between educational researchers on this issue. The first four chapters cover details of the proposal stage as previously approved by the Thesis Committee. Chapter One briefly introduces this issue and several important terms used throughout the thesis (e.g., distance learning, traditional classroom, and self-directing learning). Chapter Two presents an in-depth review and analysis of educational and psychological theories and research literature. Chapters Three and Four present principal research questions explored in addressing this issue, as well as ways that relevant data was obtained and analyzed using an action research methodology. The next three chapters discuss the data collection and analysis stage. Chapter Five presents data secured from surveyed RIT administrators' interviews and questionnaire responses. Chapter Six describes data collected and analyzed based on observations in both the traditional classroom and distance learning sections of the surveyed course. Chapters Seven and Eight provide the results of data collection and analysis activities completed for instructors and students in the same two sections. These chapters include operational definitions, visual graphs, tables, and analytical interpretations of the data collected. The last three chapters present conclusions based on the data and analyses previously documented. Chapter Nine discusses gaps between instructors' teaching styles and students' learning styles for the surveyed course. Chapter Ten compares RIT's university learning goals with the viewpoints and performance of instructors and students in both the traditional classroom and distance learning sections, and recommends ways to alleviate the performance discrepancies detected. Chapter Eleven presents serendipitous findings and limitations of the study. The general answer to the most important question addressed in the thesis is that current RIT distance learning methods are not as effective as needed to fully comply with university-level learning goals. However, Chapter Ten concludes that both traditional classroom and distance learning methods can be much more successful in meeting these goals if RIT implements the recommendations presented in this chapter and explores other ways to enhance both environments of the education system.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Rochester Institute of Technology. College of Applied Science and Technology--Curricula--Evaluation; Distance education--New York (State)--Rochester--Evaluation; Technical education--New York (State)--Rochester--Evaluation; Telecommunication in education-

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Information Sciences and Technologies (GCCIS)


Perry, Ronald

Advisor/Committee Member

Doubleday, Nancy


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: LC5806.N7 G74 2000


RIT – Main Campus