Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

James White, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

William Kealy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sherman Dorn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Kromrey, Ph.D.


Online learning, Distance education, Course design, Web learning, Course structure, Transactional distance


Online or web-based courses have become prolific in our educational environment over the past several years. The development of these courses can be guided by systematic design models to ensure quality instructional design. Transactional distance, the theory that claims the distance an online student feels is more of a pedagogical distance than a geographic one, consists of three factors: structure, dialogue, and learner autonomy. Accurate measurement of these three factors is needed in order to substantiate its claims and to best determine the delivery implications. This study produced an instrument that measures the structure component of the transactional distance theory as it pertains to the online environment. A total of 20 online courses were evaluated using the Structure Component Evaluation Tool (SCET). Experts in the field validated the instrument and reliability was determined by calculating Cronbachs alpha as well as examining inter-rater reliability. The SCET also excelled in a comparison to other instruments in the field in terms of its ability to produce rich, valid information about the structure of online courses.