Validation of indicators by rating the proximity between similarity and dissimilarity among indicators in pairs for online course evaluation in postsecondary education.

Seok, Soonhwa, Ph.D., The University of Kansas, 2006.


The purpose of this study was to identify and validate indicators applicable to the evaluation of online instruction at the post-secondary level. The indicators were derived from an extensive review of the literature and input from two consultant Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Four SMEs, serving as judges, rated the similarity of indicators by making Pair-Wise Comparisons utilizing Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) techniques.

The study involved six distinct stages: Stage I involved a literature search in identifying indicators crucial to effective online learning. Stage II involved two SMEs reaching consensus on the indicators. This stage resulted in a comprehensive set of 99 independent indicators considered to be representative of the online course structure for post-secondary education. Stage III involved the development of an online MDS instrument accommodating the 4, 851 Pair-Wise Comparisons in random order. Stage IV involved a panel of four SME judges rating the 4,851 Pair-Wise Comparisons ([99*98]/2). Their ratings of indicators' similarity confirm the existence of the indicators' validity. They used a multiple point scale from 1 to 9 to do the ratings, with higher numbers indicating similarity, and lower numbers indicating dissimilarity. Stage V involved the data collection via the online MDS Instrument. Stage VI involved applying Multidimensional Scaling analysis to the comparisons.

The results of the MDS study indicated the three-dimensional solution as the appropriate model for analysis. The three dimensional solution indicated .24222 for the fit values of STRESS and .74 for R-squared. Three dimensions were labeled as Accessibility, Adaptability, and Clarity of Communication dimensions. Four clusters were identified as Contextual Accommodation, Instructional Access, Guided Learning, and Organizational Clarity clusters.

This study resulted in unique dimensions and clusters of items that are designed to evaluate several aspects of e-Learning design and implementation. Instruments derived from this study should serve in both evaluative and formative capacities to assess the quality of online courses and to advance the rapidly evolving discipline of e-Learning.