Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Organizational Studies

Content Description

1 online resource (xii, 202 pages) : PDF file, illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Richard D Johnson

Committee Members

Janet Marler, Sylvia Roch


Human resource management, Training and development, Computer-assisted instruction, Internet in education, Personnel management, Socialization

Subject Categories

Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Organizational Behavior and Theory


For e-learning initiatives to succeed, they must be designed to support a variety of trainees, methods, and content. Two important considerations in the design of any learning environment are the complexity of the tasks being learned and the socialization and connections of the trainees. Therefore, the goal of this research was to investigate how different levels of complexity and trainee socialization affect training outcomes in an e-learning environment. Given the importance of additional trainee and environment factors, a model of e-learning effectiveness was proposed in which the mediating roles of engagement, social presence, and motivation to learn are considered. To examine the model, a training experiment utilizing a 4 X 2 between group factorial design was conducted. A total of 252 undergraduate students participated in the study. Although the results did not support the complete model, there were several interesting findings. First, socialization was found to have a significant negative, relationship with trainee performance. Second, increased training complexity was related to poorer training performance. Third, although neither complexity nor socialization affected satisfaction, socialization had a negative impact on utility judgments. Fourth, although course design and trainee characteristics did not mediate the relations between socialization, complexity, and course outcomes, evidence indicated their importance in e-learning. Fifth, engagement was positively related to trainee satisfaction and training utility. Sixth, social presence was not found to be significantly related to trainee performance, satisfaction, or perceived training utility. Finally, motivation to learn was positively related to trainee performance, satisfaction, and perceived training utility.