It’s a common belief that students who are in the traditional classroom and receive face-to-face education do better than online students. However, I recently came across a study that shows that this may no longer be the case.
The study conducted by Ithaka S+R followed the learning of two groups of students: one group who strictly attended classroom sessions and the other who took the course online plus attended a one-hour, in-person lecture per week.
In the report, “Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials,” the results from the study are discussed in great detail. In particular, the findings surrounding learning outcomes and how the students perceived their overall success were especially interesting.
Prior to beginning the course, all students were given the Comprehensive Assessment of Outcomes in Statistics (CAOS) test to measure their statistical literacy and reasoning skills. At the end of the semester they took the CAOS again, completed a baseline survey, and took the course’s final exam.
The results indicated no significant statistical differences in the learning outcomes between traditional and hybrid students. In fact, online students and those who combined traditional and online learning did as good as or better on the CAOS and the final exam than strictly traditional classroom students.
What I found to be very interesting was even though they performed better, students in the hybrid program rated the class lower than traditional students. In general, students felt that they did not learn as much as they would have if they had attended the course in person.
This is fascinating considering that the hybrid students took one-quarter less time to achieve the same results as the traditional students. The traditional students were expected to attend three, one-hour in person class sessions per week while the hybrid-format learners only attended one, one-hour in person class session per week. The hybrid-format students did spend 0.3 hour more outside of class on coursework, however, the total amount of time they spent on the class overall was still one-quarter less than traditional students.
There are many obstacles that non-traditional students have to face when it comes to obtaining higher education, and I still have some concerns about the challenges for distance ed students. But this study does shed an interesting light on the direction of higher education.
What do you think?