Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas
A new study supports the concern that MOOCs are a particularly poor fit for underprepared students, the ones most likely to be taking remedial courses. It relates to the issues raised yesterday about the difficulty of covering all aptitudes and backgrounds with a single class.
Using a dataset containing nearly 500,000 courses taken by over 40,000 community and technical college students in Washington State, this study examines how well students adapt to the online environment in terms of their ability to persist and earn strong grades in online courses relative to their ability to do so in face-to-face courses. While all types of students in the study suffered decrements in performance in online courses, some struggled more than others to adapt: males, younger students, Black students, and students with lower grade point averages. In particular, students struggled in subject areas such as English and social science, which was due in part to negative peer effects in these online courses.