As my first blog post and on the two year anniversary of my successful defence, I am pleased to share with you the synopsis of my doctoral dissertation, along with the link to the full version. I graduated in 2020 with a Doctor of Education degree (EdD) in Distance Education from Athabasca University with a dissertation titled, “Satisfaction of Canadian Armed Forces Regular Force Members with their Distance Learning Experiences.” I will surely have further musings about the results of the research, as well as my own personal learning journey towards its completion, in future posts. I share with you here the synopsis. The link to the full dissertation is also below if you wish to explore more. I also have a shorter summary version (~10 pages) available (upon request) that was published as a scientific letter by the Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC).
The use of distance learning (DL) as a training and education delivery method has been on the rise within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as a way of optimizing funding to the training system while still maintaining a high standard. Since research has shown relationships between student satisfaction and various positive outcomes, such as training retention and readiness to transfer learning to the workplace, the satisfaction of CAF learners is an important area of inquiry. This research explored the satisfaction levels of CAF members with their DL experiences, how different variables related to that satisfaction, and how military-specific considerations affected members’ DL experiences.
This mixed methods research involved a sample of CAF members who had completed, within approximately the past three years, one of seven CAF professional development courses/programs that were delivered via DL or in a blended DL and classroom format. The study used a two-phase mixed-methods research design that included data collection in the form of an online survey distributed to 1310 CAF Regular Force members, which yielded 368 usable questionnaires, followed by 12 follow-up interviews. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and correlation analyses, as well as factor analyses and multiple regression. Qualitative data were analyzed using coding frequency analyses and thematic content analysis, which added depth concerning CAF members’ personal experiences.
The findings showed a relatively high level of satisfaction, but that given the choice between delivery modes, a much higher percentage of members would choose classroom over DL. The exploration of demographic, course quality, support, and perception variables in relation to overall DL satisfaction shed some light on potential reasons for these findings. Recommendations were provided to encourage continuous improvement of CAF DL programs.