Article Summary #17: Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Differences across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas

Citation: Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2014). Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Differences across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas. Journal Of Higher Education, 85(5), 633-659.
Word cloud of the article: Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses

Summary: This article assessed the performance gap between F2F and online courses along ethnicity, gender, age, study, and academic preparation.  The authors used a dataset of 500,000 online and F2F courses and 40,000 students from Washington State's community college system. The results showed that enrollment patterns vary according to subject area (higher in humanities and social sciences, lower in sciences, math, and engineering).  The performance gap between online and F2F courses according to subject area was also identified, though education, mass communication, and health and physical education were not significant.  The authors revealed a 3% gap in completion and .20 difference in grades of the courses.  All subgroups studied showed negative outcomes in the online environment, but the size varied; men did worse than women and African Americans did worse than Asian-American students.  Older students did slightly poorer in F2F courses but slightly better in online courses than younger (24 and below) students.  Students with more academic preparation and stronger GPAs had less of a performance gap in online courses. Overall, the research suggests that gaps in the F2F are further extended in the online realm.  They recommend three possible approaches to address the gap:  screening, early warning, and scaffolding within courses.

Keywords: online education, nontraditional student, community college, access, performance gap, f2f vs online




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