Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rushing too fast to online learning? Outcomes of Internet versus face-to-face instruction

Date:
August 8, 2010
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
A new study suggests simply putting traditional classes online may have negative consequences, especially for lower-performing and minority students.

A combination of fiscal constraints and improvements in technology has led to an increased reliance on online classes of all types -- many of which use Internet versions of traditional, live lectures. Now a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) raises questions about that fast-growing trend in higher education.

"Online instruction may be more economical to deliver than live instruction, but there is no free lunch," said David Figlio, Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University and primary author of the NBER working paper released this month. "Simply putting traditional courses online could have negative consequences, especially for lower-performing and language minority students."

The rush to online education may come at a greater cost than educators suspect, according to Figlio and study co-authors Mark Rush and Lu Yin of the University of Florida. The release last summer of a report by the U.S. Department of Education added to the growing trend.

"Our findings suggest that universities interested in exploiting economic efficiencies should carefully consider whether they want to put traditional lecture classes online," said Figlio. "Our study for the first time presents experimental evidence about the relative efficacy of face-to-face versus recorded traditional lectures.

"We didn't test whether Internet courses are good or bad per se," said Figlio, who teaches in Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy and is a faculty fellow at its Institute for Policy Research. "But we did find modest evidence that live-only instruction results in higher learning outcomes than Internet instruction."

The study, "Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning," is by no means definitive, according to Figlio. It does, however, provide the first "apples-to-apples" comparison of live versus online delivery of traditional classes.

The study's strongest findings in favor of live instruction were for relatively low achieving students, male students and Hispanic students. While they may be better served by face-to-face education delivery, often those are the students who are most likely to receive online education.

"At the least, our findings indicate that much more experimentation is necessary before one can credibly declare that online education is peer to traditional live classroom instruction, let alone superior to live instruction," the authors write.

The study made use of data from an experiment conducted in a Principles of Microeconomics class taught at a large, selective doctorate-granting university.

Typically, students register for a "live" section of the microeconomics class in which they can watch the lecture in a room with 190 seats or they can register for an online section in which they watch the lecture online. Because 1,600 or more students typically participate in the class taught by a single instructor, most students register for an online section.

Prior to the Spring 2007 semester, the instructor of the class offered students the opportunity to participate in the experiment. Of nearly 1,600 registered students, 327 volunteered to take part and, in return, were given a half letter boost in their grade at the end of the semester.

The volunteers were randomly assigned to watching the lecture live or to watching the lecture online. Measures were taken to ensure that instruction delivery was made only in the manner in which students were randomly assigned.

"Until further studies on the effectiveness of online learning versus in-class learning are necessary, universities would be wise to recognize that all Internet courses are not created equally," Figlio said. That, he added, was the salient point of last year's U.S. Department of Education report.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. The original article was written by Wendy Leopold. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Rushing too fast to online learning? Outcomes of Internet versus face-to-face instruction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628092756.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2010, August 8). Rushing too fast to online learning? Outcomes of Internet versus face-to-face instruction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628092756.htm
Northwestern University. "Rushing too fast to online learning? Outcomes of Internet versus face-to-face instruction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628092756.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Earnings Put Smile on Investors Faces

Facebook Earnings Put Smile on Investors Faces

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Facebook earnings beat forecasts- with revenue climbing 61 percent. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins