A study of California’s community college system found that students aren’t doing as well in courses taken online when compared to traditional classroom teaching. Researchers found that online students lag behind their in-class peers in completing the course, completing it with a passing grade, and completing it with grades of A or B.
The results were the same across subjects, as well as across courses of different types and groups of students, according to a report in Inside Higher Education. No group of online students performed better than their counterparts in face-to-face classes.
Researchers noted that the results may vary in other states. However, the California system has placed a priority on online education and has a huge student population to study.
“Faculty members teaching online should be aware of the performance penalty associated with taking courses online and consider implementing course policies and practices that would allow them to detect student disengagement in the absence of the physical clues that face-to-face instructors can rely on,” the authors of the study wrote. “Students should be made aware that success rates are systematically lower in online than in face-to-face sections so that they can make informed enrollment decisions, and should be introduced to study strategies and time-management strategies that promote success in online formats.”