A Comparative Study of Nontraditional Students in 8-Week Online Classes and 8-Week Hybrid Classes Offered in the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at a University in the Northeast

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  • Online learning has become increasingly popular in recent years as nontraditional students look for convenience and flexibility in combining educational goals with work and family responsibilities. Although online courses have become a much larger part of the curriculum of higher educational institutions, there is little research on the effectiveness of this format. This study is an attempt to measure the effectiveness of online courses by comparing the outcomes for two online delivery formats: 8-week online courses and 8-week hybrid courses. The results of this study will help higher education administrators and faculty in the design and delivery of their online courses to improve their effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to compare the success and completion rates of nontraditional undergraduate students enrolled in 8-week online and 8-week hybrid humanities courses. The 8-week online courses were delivered through Blackboard and the 8-week hybrid courses were delivered through both Blackboard and in the classroom. The success and completion rates of these two delivery formats were used to measure their effectiveness. The study consisted of data from humanities courses, which was collected over 10 8-week terms beginning in the fall of 2015 and ending in the spring of 2017. Data was collected from a student population of n=239 students in the 8-week online course format and n=142 students within the 8-week hybrid format. The study found that students enrolled in 8-week hybrid courses had higher success rates than students enrolled in 8-week online courses. In addition, students in the hybrid courses were more likely to complete these courses than students in the fully online courses. Final grades were used as a measure of student success with findings showing slightly higher final grades for those enrolled in hybrid courses in comparison to those enrolled in fully online courses. Other findings showed that the proportion of students who failed to complete their courses was greater in online courses than in hybrid courses. These findings were supported by the slightly higher withdrawal rate among those in online versus hybrid courses. There were only slight differences in withdrawal rates based on gender for both the online and hybrid courses. However, there were some differences found in comparing the success rates of students based on race and ethnicity in both 8-week online and hybrid courses. White and Asian students had higher rates of success than Black and Hispanic/Latino students.
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  • 04/23/2024
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