Online Learning Outcomes Equivalent to Traditional Methods: But what about the drops?

March 15, 2013 at 1:57 am 2 comments

This is a great result, if I can believe it.  They took 605 students, some in a traditional course and some in a “hybrid” course, and did pre/post tests.  They found no difference in outcomes.

Here’s what I’m not sure about: What happened to those students who failed or who withdrew?  Other studies have suggested that online courses have higher withdraw/failure rates.  Is that the case here? There is only one footnote (page 18) that mentions withdraw/failure: “(27) Note that the pass rate in Figure 1 and Appendix Table A3 cannot be used to calculate the percentage of students who failed the course because the non-passing group includes students who never enrolled or withdrew from the course without receiving a grade.”  But that’s it.  If you lose more students in one format, and the students you lose are the weaker students (not an unreasonable assumption), then having the same learning gains doesn’t mean for all students.  It means that you’ve biased your sample.

The researchers asked the students to complete a number of tests and questionnaires before beginning the course and again after completing it, and they analyzed and compared the results between the two groups of students. The results revealed no statistical difference in educational outcomes between the two groups of students. In fact, the students in the hybrid course performed slightly better, but not enough to be statistically significant.

via Online Learning Outcomes Equivalent to Traditional Methods, Study Finds — Campus Technology.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Fred Martin  |  March 15, 2013 at 7:53 am

    They compared hybrid (in-person + online) to traditional, and found them essentially the same. This is not too surprising! Lots of studies find that hybrid works. Note: hybrid is not “efficient”! It still takes the time of a caring good instructor paying attention to individual students!

    In other words, this study is silent about MOOCs (despite the authors’ introduction of the term ILO = interactive online learning).

  • […] are the ramifications of this trend?  We know that not everyone succeeds in online classes, that they tend to have much higher withdrawal and failure rates. We know that most people learn best with active learning (see one of my posts on this), and we do […]


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