The Effects of Learner-Centered Beliefs of Online College Mathematics Instructors on Student Performance

Jan Edwards-Webster, Gardner-Webb University


The widespread adoption of online education as a viable source of teaching and learning has brought the use of the internet into mainstream education and with it the need to design and define a student-centered approach that pays attention to the abilities, interests, and preferences of the learner to support student achievement. The educational landscape has been forcibly impacted by the soaring numbers of institutions offering online programs, degrees, and certifications. This dissertation was designed to explore teacher beliefs on learner-centered practices and their effects on student performance.

Consequently, a non-experimental study design was used to examine online teacher beliefs about the learner, learning, and teaching as well as the impact of their beliefs on student achievement. The researcher collected data via the Teacher Beliefs Survey and analyzed student achievement for the purpose of research.

Demographic information describing the participants in the study is presented. In concert, descriptive statistics are presented to further describe statistically the participants and data collected from the Teacher Beliefs Survey. Research questions were explored statistically using Independent-Samples t -Tests, and Analysis of Variance. The overall data analysis resulted in a failure to reject the four null hypotheses and therefore did not show statistically significant differences among learner-centered teachers, non-learner-centered teachers, and student performance in the online postsecondary level. Subsequently, future research is needed to investigate the changes that take place in teaching practices, student achievement, and retention when professional development is geared towards online learner-centeredness. Additionally, research should also evaluate what differences may exist in instructors' and students' beliefs in those universities that have fully adopted the learner-centered model for the online classroom and the subsequent effects on achievement and retention. Every instructor can be learner-centered provided they are afforded the opportunity and support that emerged from this study. More importantly, further research can validate the import of this study to instruction.