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A survey was conducted to determine university students' opinions about the three kinds of interactions, student-course instructor, student-course content, and student-student, which are considered to be important and even essential according to transactional distance theory. The survey also included an item about the fourth kind of interaction mentioned in the literature, which is learner-interface interaction. One hundred and seventy students who were enrolled in different sections of online courses participated in the study and completed a survey during the second half of the semester, after they have had opportunities to interact with the instructor, course website and with other students enrolled in the course. Both undergraduate and graduate students who participated in this study did not want student-student interactions to be mandatory in online courses. This and other findings of this study indicate that there is a need to revise transactional distance theory to exclude student-student interactions. Statistically significant responses were provided by undergraduate and graduate students on an item that declared that interacting with other students in was the best way to learn the course content in an online course. A statistically significant (Pearson Chi Square Value = 4.802, asymptotic 2-sided significance p=.028; Fisher’s Exact Test exact 2-sided significance p=.042) proportion of graduate students disagreed with their undergraduate counterparts on this item.
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Thirunarayanan, Mandayam; Ferris, Elizabeth C.; Pressey, Stanley P.; and Andrees, Wellington, "Transactional Distance Theory: Should It Be Revised To Exclude Student-Student Interactions?" (2011). Department of Teaching and Learning. 16.
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Originally published in International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning.