Education Long Distance Style
To assess the effectiveness of the online course at the online education schools, specific research questions needed to be answered. Following are four research questions addressed in this study:
1. Was the effectiveness of the online course equivalent to that of the traditional route?
2. What factors were associated with the final course score of students in the regular class?
3. What factors were associated with the final course score of students in the online course?
4. Did the factors related to the final course score, if any, have a similar impact on the traditional route and the online course?
The first research question compared the effectiveness of the two modes of instruction. This question was addressed in two ways. First, student performance was assessed through a comparison of the average course score for the two methods of education–one before offering the online option and one after. The Course Score was calculated at the end of the semester as a weighted average of 3 exams (90%) and online homework (10%). Second, the relationship of Course Score to Absence Rate was analyzed for the online course. The student’s absence rate was measured during the session. Theoretically, the performance of students in the class with the online option should not be a function of attendance (as it might be in the class without the online option). This could be considered a measure of the effectiveness of using an online opportunity as a substitute for in-class lecture attendance.
The second research question examined factors that might be associated with the final Course Score in the traditional course. This was addressed by considering the impact of the elements of student Grade Point Average (GPA) and Absence Rate on the final Course Score. Student GPA was obtained from student records.
The third research question, which examined the factors that might be associated with the final Course Score in the online course, was addressed by investigating GPA and Absence Rate as well as other elements derived from the questionnaire. The factors from the survey included Computer Ownership, Computer Skills, Skills in Online Education, Computer Use, Internet Use, Comfort With Computers, Age, Work Experience, and Distance From Campus. The questionnaire, which consisted of questions and Likert-scaled statements, is included in the Appendix. The survey was administered during the first two weeks of class to students in the online course. Data for the additional factors were available only from the online course, but most of the elements dealt with aspects of online education and were not applicable to the traditional path.