A Little Online Learning Is a Good Thing


Ellen Wagner, PhD, Chief Research Officer for the PAR Framework and VP for Research at Hobsons

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Did you ever wonder if 100 percent old-school, campus-based, face-to-face learning might be better for all students? Or that maybe online learning should only be available to certain kinds of students? Maybe online learning is actually slowing students down on their journey to completion… and maybe it penalizes at-risk students most of all.

Today, we can answer all of these questions: “No.”

As an article in this week’s special Learning Analytics issue of the OLC’s Online Learning peer-reviewed journal titled “Retention, Progression, and the Taking of Online Courses” helped reveal the following:

  • Participation in online coursework is not necessarily harmful to student retention.
  • For students at traditional four-year universities, there was no difference in retention among the different delivery modes (on-the ground, blended, or fully-online).
  • At institutions that operate primarily online, students with some online courses (but not all) had slightly better odds of being retained than students who chose coursework either all on-ground or all online.

The research behind these exciting findings was conducted by Scott James, PAR Framework Data Scientist; Professor Dr. Karen Swan, University of Illinois Springfield, and Sandy Daston, PAR Framework Director of Student Success. The full article, “Retention, Progression and the Taking of Online Courses” Online Learning Journal, Vol 20, (2), June 2016. pp 75-96, can be found here.

Read Ellen’s entire blog post on the Hobsons website.

About the Author

E.WagnerDr. Ellen Wagner is the Chief Research Officer for the PAR Framework and VP for Research at Hobsons.


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