Impact of Course Quality on Student Academic Performance

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Quality was thought to be an important factor in the delivery of online courses. This study documented the effects of quality within online learning environment on the performance of the student. Does the level of course quality have a statistically significant impact on course level student grades?

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Presenters

Dr. Cassandra S. Shaw is the Program Director for the BA and MA Entrepreneurship Programs at American Public University; she has been with the University since 2007. Dr. Shaw received a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, a Master’s degree from University of Phoenix, and a Ph.D. from Capella University and worked in Business and Management for over 15 years and traveled the United States as a National Trainer; she has been in academia since 2005. Dr. Shaw is involved in higher education research, specifically with online learning.

Additional Authors

Dr. Kathleen Irwin currently holds a doctorate in Organization and Management from Capella University. Dr. Irwin has been teaching on the graduate and undergraduate levels for the past 19 years. She has been with American Public University System for a little over 5 years and is currently the Program Director for Business Administration. In her role at APUS, she manages the curriculum in three degree programs and works with 13 full-time faculty developers.

Extended Abstract

Quality was thought to be an important factor in the delivery of online courses. This study documented the effects of quality within online learning environment on the performance of the student. Does the level of course quality have a statistically significant impact on course level student grades?

It is imperative that we impart some specific points regarding the results of the findings. A review of the purpose for pursuing the investment of quality in online education is foremost, followed by a reevaluation of key literary ideas. We started by stating that quality was thought to be an important factor in student performance. Based on the data from this pretest-posttest study, the researchers have demonstrated that this is not the case. In light of this, what basis do educators have then for pursuing investment in the quality initiative? Other elements may be affected by course quality—retention, persistence, and student satisfaction, for example. These elements were not considered in this study. In addition, other factors were not considered within the study such as student demographics, course level, student level, or faculty characteristics.

Course level student performance data and course quality ratings were obtained using a customized Course Quality Rubric and student data from the host institution’s databases and through Program Director assessment; the data collection period was for three months in the Winter of 2017 and three months in the Spring of 2017. Data was collected for thirty-four courses in four subject areas within the School of Business (Business Administration, Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing). A nonrandom purposeful sampling process was used to isolate courses which scored with a beginning course quality level of < .80, which were then targeted for course quality improvement activities. A paired t-test was performed to determine if the actions taken to improve overall course quality impacted student course grades.

The outcome of the paired t-test indicated the mean difference in student grade (M = -.161, SD = .264, N = 34) was not significantly different than zero, t(33) = -.61, two-tail p = 0.546, providing evidence that the course quality improvement actions were not effective in changing student course level grades. A 95% C.I. about mean course grade is (-.698, .376). This provided evidence to accept the null hypothesis H10 that a statistically significant difference does not exist between mean course level grades before and after the implementation of a course quality improvement initiative. Through this study, it was determined the improvement of course quality did not statistically impact student academic performance. Improving course quality to 80% and higher had a statically significant change in the course quality scores. It just did not have a statistically significant impact on student course grade. While this pretest-posttest study focused on the short-term gain of a course quality intervention, it did not study long-term effects, such as retention in an academic program. It is assumed that students do not drop a course due to poor quality because they most likely need the course for program requirements. Subpar quality of a course would need to be egregious to effect student performance.