American Sociological Association

Can Online Courses Deliver In-class Results? A Comparison of Student Performance and Satisfaction in an Online versus a Face-to-face Introductory Sociology Course

This study uses a quasi-experimental design to assess differences in student performance and satisfaction across online and face-to-face (F2F) classroom settings. Data were collected from 368 students enrolled in three online and three F2F sections of an introductory-level sociology course. The instructor, course materials, and assessments were consistent between the two delivery formats. The investigators compare student satisfaction and student performance on midterm exams and an integrating data analysis assignment. Ordinary least squares regression is used to evaluate the effect of the different course settings, independent of a number of demographic and control variables. Results indicate that differences in student performance between the two settings may be accounted for by the presence of a selection effect and that student satisfaction does not significantly differ across the two settings. These findings are interpreted to mean that when online courses are designed using pedagogically sound practices, they may provide equally effective learning environments.


Adam Driscoll, Karl Jicha, Andrea N. Hunt, Lisa Tichavsky, and Gretchen Thompson





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