Research Article
Facilitating and Dealing with Learner Differences in the Online Classroom

Donovan A. McFarlane

APA 6th edition
McFarlane, D.A. (2012). Facilitating and Dealing with Learner Differences in the Online Classroom. European Journal of Educational Research, 1(1), 1-12. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.1.1.1

McFarlane D.A. 2012 'Facilitating and Dealing with Learner Differences in the Online Classroom', European Journal of Educational Research , vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-12. Available from:

Chicago 16th edition
McFarlane, Donovan A. . "Facilitating and Dealing with Learner Differences in the Online Classroom". (2012)European Journal of Educational Research 1, no. 1(2012): 1-12. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.1.1.1


This paper explores the challenges faced by teachers and educators in the online classroom, especially in light of existing learner differences among students stemming from intelligence, socioeconomic status (SES), culture, gender, among other factors. The author examines the characteristics of the online classroom and looks at learner differences as significant factors impacting teacher responsibilities in the online setting. Several challenges common to facilitated online learning (FOL) and independent online learning (IOL) in the online classroom are examined and brought into perspective as the author applies social science theories such as self-efficacy, multiple intelligences theory, social distance theory and comparative homogeneity, pedagogy and classroom management theories in analyzing and addressing these challenges. The author makes several recommendations for online teachers and educators to address the problems and challenges that are present in the online classroom and then explores the implications for teaching and learning. Finally, the author espouses a need for research into the major issue under discussion.

Keywords: Facilitated online learning (fol), independent online learning (iol), online classroom, presence, school climate, school culture, pedagogy, computer mediated learning (cml), socioeconomic status (ses), efficacy


Akerlof, G. (1997). Social Distance and Social Decisions. Econometrica 65, pp. 1005–1028.

Andrew, L. D., Parks, D. J., Nelson, L. A., & Phi Delta Kappa Commission on Teacher/Faculty Morale. (1985). Administrator’s Handbook for Improving Faculty Morale. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa.

Araki, C. T. (1982). Leadership study in Hawaii – How characteristics of principals affect schools. NASSP Bulletin, 66. pp. 88-96.

Armstrong. T. (2010). Multiple Intelligences. Retrieved from

Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom 3rd edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Bentley, R. R., & Rempel, A. M. (1972). Purdue Teacher Opinionaire. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue Research Foundation.

Butt, G., Lance, A., Fielding, A., Gunter, H., Rayner, S., & Thomas, H. (2005). Teacher job satisfaction: lessons from the TSW Pathfinder Project. School Leadership & Management, 25, pp. 455-471.

Cook, D. H. (1979). Teacher morale: Symptoms, diagnosis, and prescription. Clearing House, 52(8), pp. 355-358.

Dillenbourg, P. (2000). Virtual Learning Environments. EUN Conference 2000: “Learning in the New Millennium: Building Educational Strategies for Schools”. Workshop on Virtual Learning Environments: University of Geneva, pp 1-30. Retrieved from

Eagley, R. J., & Jones, B. D. (2005). Principals’ inviting leadership behaviors in a time of test-based accountability. Scholar-Practitioner Quarterly, 3(1), pp. 13-24.

Eggen, P.D., & Kauchak, D.P. (2003). Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms, 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Entz, S. (2006). Why Pedagogy Matters: The Importance of Teaching in a Standards-Based Environment. Urbana, Illinois: The Forum on Public Policy.

Evans, L. (1997). Understanding teacher morale and job satisfaction. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13, pp. 831-845.

Evans, V., & Johnson, D. J. (1990). The relationship of principals' leadership behavior and teachers’ job satisfaction and job-related stress. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 17, pp. 11-18.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

Gardner, H. (2000) Intelligence Reframed:  Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century.  New York:  Basic Books, Inc.

Goleman, D. (1997). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam, Random House Publishing Group.

Grey-Bowen, J.E., & McFarlane, D.A. (2010). Gender Discrimination: An Exploration of Gender Compensation Gap and the Higher Education Connection. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, Volume 1, Number 5, December 2010 Issue.

Hardy, L. (1999). Why teachers leave. American School Board Journal, 186(6), pp. 12-17.

Hipp, K. A. (1997). Documenting the Effects of Transformational Leadership Behavior on Teacher Efficacy. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED407734).

Houchard, M. A. (2005). Principal leadership, teacher morale, and student achievement in seven schools in Mitchell County, North Carolina. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.

Hughes, R.L., Ginnett, R.C., & Curphy, G.J. (2009). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience, 6e. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Hunter-Boykin, H. S., Evans, V. (1995). The relationship between high school principals’ leadership and teachers’ morale. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 22(2), pp. 152-162.

Kelley, R. C., Thornton, B., & Daugherty, R. (2005). Relationships between measures of leadership and school climate. Education, 126, pp. 17-25. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ725153).

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2003). The leadership challenge (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Leeson, P.T. (2008). Social Distance and Self-Enforcing Exchange. Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 37(1), (January 2008); pp. 161-188.

Lester, P. E. (1990). Fifty ways to improve teacher morale. Clearing House, 63(6), pp. 274-275.

Liu, X. S., & Meyer, J. P. (2005). Teachers’ perceptions of their jobs: A multilevel analysis of the teacher follow-up survey for 1994–95. Teachers College Record, 107(5), pp. 985-1003.

McFarlane, D.A. (2011a). The Leadership Roles of Distance Learning Administrators (DLAs) in Increasing Educational Value and Quality Perceptions. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume IV, Number I, Spring 2011. Retrieved from:

McFarlane, D.A. (2011b). A Comparison of Organizational Structure and Pedagogical Approach: Online versus Face-to-face. The Journal of Educators Online, Volume 8, Number 1, January 2011, pp. 1-43. Retrieved from

McFarlane, D.A. (2010a). Principals’ perceptions of superintendents’ leadership practices and its impact on school climate in selected South Florida public school district areas. Ed.D. Dissertation, St. Thomas University, 2010, 288 pages; AAT 3421056; ProQuest Theses and Dissertations.

McFarlane, D.A. (2010b). The School Economy: The Roles and Effects of the Growth of Schools and Schooling in the Global Economy. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, September 2010, Volume 1, Number 4, pp. 35-48; Electronic access:

McFarlane, D.A. (2008). An Analysis and Critique of Four Major Ethical Paradigms: Theoretical Frameworks, Comparative Constructs, and Leadership Implications. Ethics & Critical Thinking Journal, Volume 2008, Issue 2; pp. 78-88.

Nguni, S., Sleegers, P., & Denessen, E. (2006). Transformational and transactional leadership effects on teachers' job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and organizational citizenship behavior in primary schools: The Tanzanian case. School Effectiveness & School Improvement, 17(2), pp. 145-177.

Rhodes, C., Neville, A., & Allan, J. (2004). Valuing and supporting teachers: A survey of teacher satisfaction, dissatisfaction, morale and retention in an English local education authority. Research in Education, 71, pp. 67-80.

Rowland, K.A. (2008). The relationship of principal leadership and teacher morale. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Section 1052, Part 0514 103 pages; [Ed.D. Dissertation] United States - Virginia: Liberty University; 2008. Publication Number: AAT 3297821.

Schulz, I. L., & Teddlie, C. (1989). The relationship between teachers’ job satisfaction and their perceptions of principals’ use of power and school effectiveness. Education, 109(4), pp. 461-468. (2008). Virtual Learning Environment. Retrieved from,,sid9_gci866691,00.html

The Journal of Educators Online [JEO]. (2010). Computer Mediated Learning (CML). Journal of Educators Online. Retrieved from

Thomas, V. (1997). What research says about administrator’s management style, effectiveness and teacher morale. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.ED411569)

Tschannen-Moran, M., & Gareis, C.R. (2004). Principal’s sense of efficacy: Assessing a prominent construct. Journal of Educational Administration, 42(5), pp. 573-585.

Tye, B. B., & O'Brien, L. (2002). Why are experienced teachers leaving the profession? Phi Delta Kappan, 84, pp. 24-32.

University Outreach & Engagement of Michigan State University. (2004). School climate and learning: School culture and school climate. Best Practice Briefs No. 31. December 2004, pp. 1-10. Retrieved from

Wentworth, M. (1990). Developing Staff Morale. The Practitioner, 16(4).