Students Taking Online Courses More Likely to Fail

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

In a newly released study of 51,000 Washington State community college students, Columbia University researchers found that students who took online courses were more likely to fail or drop out of the course than students who took the same course in person. Moreover, those students with the most Web credits were the least likely to graduate.

At the community-college level, the number of online students has grown astronomically over the years – from 700,000 in 1998 to more than 5 million in 2007. And among high schools students, the percentage taking online courses nearly doubled to 27 percent in 2009, up from just 14 percent the year before.

In Florida, a new state law requires all entering 9th-graders to have at least one online class before they graduate (as does Michigan, Indiana, New Mexico, and Alabama) and it also provides that the full-time, kindergarten through 12th-grade Florida Virtual School begin offering high-school diplomas in 2013. Meanwhile, in Idaho, they’re going a step further: after state superintendent Tom Luna proposed requiring high school students to take eight classes on line – or basically a year’s worth of instruction, the state board has settled on two.

Proponents say online classes accommodate different kinds of students and keep potential dropouts in their classroom. It’s also clear that they save money for their state or higher-ed institution: an online class doesn’t come with bricks-and-mortar costs, its instructors may have much larger “class” sizes, and those teachers are likely to be contingent faculty members or uncertified in the state where their students live.

But the NEA authors suggest that many solutions, which would ensure a better experience for faculty and students, can be found through collective bargaining. For example, at Shawnee State University, the authors found that the faculty contract ensures no online class will have more than 26 students – a number that provides for adequate student support.

Title: Study Shows: Students Taking Online Courses More Likely to Fail
Source: NEA Today, July 26 2011
Author: Mary Ellen Flannery

Student Researcher: Michael Guglielmo- Sonoma State University
Faculty Advisor: Lisa Pollack- Sonoma State University