Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Hansen

Third Advisor

Dr. James Visser


Distance learning technologies are increasingly used within public post-secondary institutions as a way to deliver courses to students remote from the home campus. Many proponents of distance learning argue that its use provides a method for reaching the educationally undeserved, i.e., those who lack access to higher education. If a distance learning program decreases access barriers, then it is congruent with traditional American values of providing universal access to education to all citizens. Distance learning program evaluation strategies, therefore, need to include a means of measuring the extent to which access goals are met.

The purpose of this study is to test the viability of selected access variables as part of an overall program evaluation model for distance learning. These variables were selected based on an extensive review of distance learning program evaluation literature and have been clustered into four dimensions: proximity, affordability, asynchronicity and technology.

Data were collected from 414 adult residents of 35 central and northern Michigan counties through telephone interviews. The findings suggest that access is an important measure of a distance learning program’s effectiveness.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access