School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Nathan Putney


Online Students, Distance Learning, Student Satisfaction, Individual Advisor, Academic Advising


Education | Higher Education | Online and Distance Education


Online education is growing so quickly that colleges are finding it difficult to provide enough online programs to meet student demands, and they are still finding their way in terms of the best academic advising format. To better understand the best way to support online students, the researcher studied student satisfaction within centralized advising offices with general academic advisors, department academic advisors, and individually assigned academic advisors. The researcher utilized developmental academic advising because it provided an excellent theoretical framework for academic advising’s purpose and its best practices. The instrument Advising Scale was used to measure student satisfaction. Advising Scale was the best fit because it was developed using developmental academic advising theory, and it was one of the only statistically validated instruments that measured academic advising satisfaction and performance. The researcher conducted a causal comparative study using a one-way ANOVA for statistical analysis. The sample was from an online undergraduate and graduate student population that attended college online. Three groups of students from distance learning programs were selected. The groups were students with a general advisor, individual advisor, or department advisor. The researcher found that there was a statistically significant difference in student satisfaction between students that had either an individual advisor, general advisor, or department advisor. Students in the individual advisor group had the highest level of student satisfaction, department advising scored second highest, and the general advisor group had the lowest student satisfaction scores. Recommendations for future research include having colleges send the survey directly to students instead of the researcher, using a qualitative approach, sampling different online colleges, and researching different advising structures.