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Cost-effectiveness of instructional delivery platforms: Comparing classroom, satellite, and online education

, Columbia University, United States

Columbia University . Awarded


This study compares three different approaches for providing a graduate-level business curriculum: classroom-based “face to face”, “satellite”-based video, and computer-based “online,” as they are practiced by a single institution, the Instituto Technologica y de Estudios Superiores (ITESM). The primary question addressed by the dissertation is: Which delivery mode is most cost-effective for instruction at ITESM, given its particular students, curriculum, and faculty? Cost-effectiveness is defined as the relationship of costs per student to final course grade, measured from 0–100. The cost analysis reported appears more reliable than the effectiveness analysis because of weaknesses of the effectiveness analysis described in the text. Classroom education would appear to both costs less and be more effective than distance education alternatives at low and medium enrollments. Enrollments greater than 200 would have to be realized in order to have any consequential difference in cost-effectiveness in favor of the distance education alternatives. This “break-even” point can change radically with different assumptions. Cost models were developed in this study to estimate and analyze direct institutional costs associated with providing instruction. At Monterrey, classroom courses were found to be less expensive on a total and per student basis until enrollments of 150. At enrollments greater than 150, online education becomes the least costly of the three alternatives. The effectivness analysis suggests that the satellite and online platforms were consistently associated with small declines in performance relative to classroom-based education at Monterrey. These differences were not always statistically significant. Even when statistically significant, the actual point-size difference was of small practical consequence—usually just one point on a scale of 1–100. The study concludes with a summary of the dissertation and reflections regarding its implications.


Bakia, M.F. Cost-effectiveness of instructional delivery platforms: Comparing classroom, satellite, and online education. Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University. Retrieved March 24, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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