The impact of text messaging on students' academic achievement in an online computing course
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The problem of low student completion rates in distance learning courses remains one of the major issues that institutions of higher learning face. Efforts by school administrators to reverse this trend have so far produced mixed results. The rapid expansion of distance learning has encouraged many institutions to move more courses online, including computer programming courses. Using a randomized post-test-only experimental design method, this study examines how the use of a mobile phone text messaging application (Remind) as a two-way communication tool may help foster a learning environment that enhances interaction between students and instructors and increases student achievement. The study uses the dialogue construct of Moore's transactional distance theory as a conceptual framework and was conducted at an urban community college. The study had fifty students who were randomly assigned to two groups of twenty-five after being enrolled in an online introductory computer programming course. Analysis of data collected indicate that there was no significant difference in the achievement scores between the treatment and the control groups. The two dependent variables used to analyze the students' achievement scores were final proctored exam scores and their total scores on programming assignments. However, performance results on individual programming assignments at the beginning of the study suggested that students in the treatment group did perform better on the first three programming assignments. Discussions about the use of text messaging as a communication tool in an online environment and the frequency and types of student-to-instructor interactions that affect student academic achievement are also highlighted.