'No Significant Differences' in Student Outcomes by Mode of Delivery

March 13, 2015

The nonprofit research organization Ithaka S+R is back with another look at the many studies that compare student outcomes from face-to-face and online or hybrid courses, and once again, the results show "no significant differences" between the two modes of delivery. Questions about the studies' methodology also remain. D. Derek Wu, an analyst at Ithaka, also noted that the "majority of studies still fall short in their efforts to fill in the gaps left by the prior literature -- particularly those related to the cost implications of online and hybrid delivery formats."

This year, Ithaka looked at 12 studies conducted in 2013 and 2014, but Wu found that many of them "are vulnerable to methodological limitations that endanger the robustness of their results." Wu suggested future research should focus on four areas: cost implications, individual features' impact on outcomes, online upper-level and humanities courses, and long-term results such as graduation and retention rates. Ithaka first began to track studies on student outcomes by delivery in 2012.

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