Report Finds Successful Online 2-Year College Courses in California

June 10, 2015

The Public Policy Institute of California released a report Tuesday identifying successful online courses in the state's community colleges.

Success was defined as having at least 70 percent of students earning a passing grade, and if student performance is at least as good as face-to-face versions of the same course. The study also defined success as when students in an online course continue to do well in subsequent same-subject classes either online or in a traditional setting.

The study found about 11 percent of online courses in 2013-14 were "highly successful" and they varied widely from one another. The courses were successful due to their design and the way they were delivered to students, although there wasn't a systematic pattern in online course success.

"This dispersion suggests that the factors determining online course success occurred neither at the college level, the subject level nor at the course level. Instead, success was determined in individual course sections. Design and delivery of online education in California's community colleges is idiosyncratic, depending primarily on the initiative of individual faculty members operating within the constraints and resources of their departments and colleges," the report said.

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