Online course offerings have become commonplace, particularly on community college campuses. However, that quantity does not necessarily mean quality, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California.
The group found that one in nine online courses offered by community colleges in the state has a pass rate considered “successful,” meaning students doing at least as well as in equivalent traditional courses and in more challenging classes. The study, Successful Online Courses in California Community Colleges, noted that 16% of online courses had acceptable pass rates, compared to 44% of traditional classes.
The report found that the median pass rate was about 10% higher for traditional courses, with online students receiving more failing or incomplete grades. It also noted that the success of an online course depended on the instructor.
“The questions that started this project were, ‘Are there certain subjects better taught online? Are there certain community colleges that do a good job online?’” Hans Johnson, one of the authors of the study, said in a report in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “We thought we may find some patterns by using those kinds of criteria, and the answer is we didn’t.”