Interpersonal Skills and Education in the Traditional and Online Classroom Environments

Natasha S. Lindsey &
University of North Alabama 
Margaret L. Rice
The University of Alabama


The purpose of this descriptive, cross-sectional, quantitative study was to compare the interpersonal abilities of online students to traditional students by evaluating their Emotional Intelligence (EI) through the Situational Test of Emotional Management (STEM). The study sought to determine whether a relationship exists between the number of online courses completed and EI abilities of students. Data were collected using a situational judgment test known as the Situational Test for Emotional Management (STEM) with additional questions added for the collection of demographic data. The sample for this study included 865 students comprised of 765 undergraduate business majors and 91 undergraduate business minors.  One of the most interesting findings to emerge from the data was the significant difference of EI scores surrounding the number of online courses completed. Students who completed at least one online course scored significantly higher on the STEM survey than their counterparts who had not completed any online courses. This finding implies that students might benefit from the time, training, experience, and practice of interpersonal skills in an online environment.

About the Author(s)...

Natasha S. Lindsey is an Assistant Professor and Instructional Designer at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama with research interests in emotional intelligence, technology integration and online learning.  She teaches undergraduate courses in business. 
Margaret L. Rice is Associate Professor of Instructional and Educational Technology at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with research interests in technology integration and distance learning.  She is the program coordinator for the Computers and Applied Technology program and teaches graduate courses in instructional technology.
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