Developing an Instrument to Assess Student Readiness for Online Learning: A validation study

Barbara Dray
Patrick Lowenthal
Melissa Miszkiewicz
Maria Ruiz-Primo
Kelly Marczynski


Given the continued growth in online learning as well as reports of high attrition rates in it, understanding student readiness for online learning is necessary. Over the years several surveys have been developed to assess student readiness as a predictor of success in online programs, however, a review of the literature yielded limited results of their translation and criterion-referenced validity. The researchers of this article sought to develop a more rigorous survey instrument for students to self-assess readiness for online learning. The authors report on findings from a three-phase study during which the instrument was developed, evaluated, and validated. Through the process of validation, the researchers systematically engaged in an iterative process to refine the instrument, which resulted in not only a more rigorous instrument but one that more clearly defines ready and situates it within the literature on learner characteristics, digital divide, and information and communications technology (ICT) engagement.


Online readiness, Learner characteristics, ICT engagement


An attempt to develop a more current instrument that combined learner characteristics and technology capabilities and to employ a methodologically rigorous approach to the development of the instrument.
developed a survey that consisted of two subscales: learner characteristics and technology capabilities.
Analysis of student responses to the item analysis overall revealed that students were responding to questions on the basis of their personal life experiences in general rather than within the educational context of online learning. As a result an overall prompt to each item was added, ‘Please answer the following questions in the context of your experiences as a college student in an online program,’ to clarify the context in which questions should be answered.
Based on results of the survey, a new subscale was created called the ICT subscale.

APA Citation

Dray, B. J., Lowenthal, P. R., Miszkiewicz, M. J., Ruiz?Primo, M. A., & Marczynski, K. (2011). Developing an instrument to assess student readiness for online learning: A validation study. Distance Education, 32(1), 29-47.

About the Study

Links to Article
Mode Online
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Distance Education
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study Student readiness
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined Graduates
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Professions
Outcome Variables of Interest Course completion
Student Sample Size 0-99
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