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A comparison of the outcomes of distance learning students versus traditional classroom students in the community college

, Florida Atlantic University, United States

Florida Atlantic University . Awarded


The purpose of this study was to compare the achievement and completion rates of students in traditional face-to face classrooms to that of students in the same courses, taught by the same instructors, via the Internet using WebCT as the learning management system. The possibility of a mediating effect of subject matter area, student age, race, gender and previous college experience was also examined.

Subjects for the study were 796 students enrolled in general education courses that were offered in the traditional classroom setting and in the distance learning format. The three general education courses chosen were American History, English Composition and Mathematics for Liberal Arts. Approximately half of the students participated in each format; 50.5% were in distance learning courses and 49.5% were in the traditional face-to-face courses.

Student achievement was determined by final course grade and tested using an independent two-sample t-test. Completion rates were calculated for both groups and the difference between groups was tested using a two-sample z-test. To study the impact of subject matter, age, race, gender and previous college experience on student achievement and completion rates in both methods of instruction, a series of two-way ANOVAs were conducted for each group and each variable. A post-hoc analysis using the Tukey HSD procedure was conducted on any variables that tested to have a statistically significant effect on the academic achievement or completion rate in either delivery method.

The findings of this study indicate that there was no difference in student achievement as measured by final course grade between distance learning and traditional classroom delivery methods. The main effect for age, race, gender and previous college experience was statistically significant on student achievement. The interaction effect was statistically significant for subject matter and previous college experience on student achievement.

There was a statistically significant difference between completion rates of students enrolled in traditional face-to-face courses compared to those in distance learning courses. The traditional courses have a higher completion rate than the distance learning courses. The variable with the greatest mediating effect on academic achievement and completion rates between delivery methods was subject matter area.


Rosenfeld, G. A comparison of the outcomes of distance learning students versus traditional classroom students in the community college. Ph.D. thesis, Florida Atlantic University. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from .

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

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