Online classes may not benefit all students
There is little doubt that online education has transformed the landscape of academia. More students are taking classes on the internet than ever before, and many of the best Christian colleges and universities offer some or all of their courses online. Although distance learning has a range of benefits, online education may not help all students, according to a recent research paper.
The paper, titled “Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas,” studied the effectiveness of online education among approximately 40,000 students in Washington state. Specifically, researchers set out to determine whether students performed as well in online classes compared to traditional classroom-based instruction.
Key findings of the paper suggest that while all students suffered slight decreases in academic achievement when studying online, some demographics fared worse than others. Male students, younger individuals, those with lower grade point averages and African American students all performed worse in online environments. The authors of the paper also noted that the widest gaps in academic achievement were observed in English and social studies classes, and speculated this was a result of the diminished peer interaction of online courses.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the researchers made several suggestions on how online education can be improved, such as screening students for aptitude prior to enrollment and restricting access to online courses to individuals with strong academic records.