Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Olinzock, Anthony A.

Committee Member

Yu, Chien.

Committee Member

Adams, James H.

Committee Member

Coats, Linda T.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Instructional Systems and Workforce Development

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development


This study investigated the impact of motivation on students’ participation and academic performance in distance learning. Distance learning continues to grow in popularity as more and more students enroll in distance education courses. These courses require more responsibility on the part of the student. Some students are unaware of the amount of work that is involved with these courses which can cause them to become overwhelmed and discouraged, possibly leading them to drop the course. Students need to be able to rely on their own individual abilities to be successful in distance learning (Hodges, 2005). At the same time, educators must also modify their instructional design when transitioning from face-toace instruction to web-based instruction (Lei & Gupta, 2010). Improved technologies can provide the means for instructors to increase the quality of learning in distance education. Technologies, such as asynchronous discussion boards allow instructors to become facilitators of learning while providing students with the opportunity to learn from one another through interaction. The use of asynchronous technologies has been known to provide several benefits for students. Those benefits include: (a) increasing student learning by helping students develop high-level concepts and skills, (b) decreasing the likelihood of procrastination, and (c) strengthening students’ self-motivation and responsibility (Abrami & Bures, 1996; Barker, 2003; Kitchen & McDougall, 1999). Twenty-nine upperclassmen and graduate students participated in this study during the summer of 2012. Using data gathered from the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and discussion board content, the researcher found student motivation to be associated with participation but not with academic performance. Also, associations were found to exist between participation and academic performance. In addition, self-efficacy, intrinsic and extrinsic goal orientation was found to be predictors of participation. The results indicate that some motivational constructs are contributing factors of student success in distance learning. Instructors and instructional designers should seek to include tools that can allow students to help themselves remain motivated while actively participating in the course. Future research should examine other learning strategies variables to determine if they may have an impact on participation and academic performance.