Online Learning And Credential Completion
Career College Central summary:
The discipline of research on online learning is nascent enough, and the body of long-term studies thin enough at this point, that keeping tabs on the state of thinking is a bit like watching a table tennis match. Every study that provides evidence of the effectiveness of online teaching seems to elicit a critical one. And vice versa.
Last week's meeting of the Sloan Consortium's International Conference on Online Learning brought the latest such volley. Peter Shea, an associate professor of education at the State University of New York at Albany, said the study he presented here, "Does Online Learning Help Community College Students Attain a Degree?" was spurred by a series of studies published in the last two years by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College.
Those studies, based on data from community college systems in Virginia and Washington State, found that students who enrolled in online courses — controlling for various factors that tend to predict success — were more likely to fail or drop out of the courses than were those who took the same courses in person. (Notably, there was no gap in completion between those enrolled in hybrid and in-person courses.) The research also showed that students who took higher shares of coursework online than did their peers were slightly but statistically significantly less likely either to finish a degree or certificate or to transfer to a four-year institution.
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