I’ve embarked on a smallish study where I’ve been looking at the impact of students participating in online courses. I’ll publish more complete details, including references to some of the relevant literature later, but wanted to post a bit of a teaser first.
I decided to contrast the GPAs of students who are enrolled in 100% face-to-face (f2f) environments with students who are taking one online course, and the rest of their courses in a f2f setting versus the GPAs of the same students in the previous year. While I haven’t done a complete statistical analysis yet, the preliminary data is showing that there really isn’t a significant difference between theses two groups. In general, the whole group of students experiences a small drop in their GPA from tenth to eleventh grade, but the drop is pretty consistent. It was about a 4.5% drop for the 100% f2f group and a 3.5% drop for the mixed online and f2f group. I’d almost stretch this to say that taking an online course actually helps student performance in their f2f classes, but I’m not sure the data supports this big of a leap in reasoning.
I’m personally not surprised by these results, as I’ve been an online learner for years, but hope that they can add to the ammo when talking to parents about the potential ‘distraction’ and ‘juggling act’ of a student taking an online course. Online classes are different, but not different in a bad way.