A comparison of the performance and perceptions of students receiving live versus web-based horticultural instruction



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Texas Tech University


The primary purpose of this dissertation was to examine whether the level of student learning in horticulture was equivalent in both web-based and traditional live instruction and to compare perceptions of students towards different modes of instruction. The research also investigated whether performance and perception were related to students' learning styles and other characteristics.

The study in Chapter II addressed whether student performance and perceptions differed between the web-based and traditional versions of an introductory horticulture course. The increase in quiz scores from pre- to post-course surveys suggested that students receiving traditional instruction acquired more knowledge than did web-based students. Traditional course students felt that their course was more of an adequate learning experience than did web-based students. Web-based students' preference for instructional mode changed from web-based to traditional during the semester. Preferences towards reflective, factual, verbal and linear learning styles were positively correlated with final grades in the traditional course. Pre-course quiz score, GPA, age, and distance living from campus were correlated with final grades in both instructional modes.

The study in Chapter III investigated whether students were able to identify plants after studying the plants online just as well as after studying them traditionally at the greenhouse. Students in the traditional group had greater total quiz scores than web-based students. Students were able to identify plants from photos just as well as from live plant specimens.

In Chapter IV, the experiment addressed whether student comprehension was different among three methods of delivery after receiving a lesson on a topic that was either predominantly text-based (photosynthesis) or object-based (plant identification). The three delivery methods were: (1) independent learning using a text handout, (2) traditional learning involving a summary lecture and a text handout, and (3) independent web-based learning with the lesson on the computer. There were no differences in student performance (where multiple choice tests and concept mapping tests were treated as a within-subjects factor) among the three delivery methods and no interaction between topic and delivery method. Participants generally had greater scores on the multiple choice tests than on the concept mapping tests where they had difficulty recalling the concepts they learned.

The study in Chapter V addressed whether student performance and perceptions were equivalent between disabled and non-disabled students receiving traditional or web-based horticultural instruction. Non-disabled students had greater final grades, expressed less frustration and found the course more acceptable than did their non-disabled counterparts in both modes of instruction. Non-disabled learners preferred factual and linear learning styles to a greater extent than did the disabled students within both modes of instruction. The higher grades and lower frustration levels of non-disabled students may be due to the instruction being more suited to their learning styles than those of disabled students, regardless of the instructional mode.