Weakest students more likely to take online college classes but do worse in them
Survey of rigorous academic research on online education finds lower grades and higher drop out rates Column by JILL BARSHAY February 4, 2019
According to the most recent federal statistics from 2016, roughly one out of every three or 6.3 million college students learned online. That number is growing even as fewer people are going to college.
The paper, “Does Online Education Live Up to Its Promise? A Look at the Evidence and Implications for Federal Policy,” was also written by Sandy Baum, an economist at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization.
Online degrees are also concentrated among a handful of nonprofit universities. Just three — Western Governors University, Liberty University and Southern New Hampshire University — enroll about a third of all online students at private, nonprofit institutions.
overwhelming research evidence that community college students aren’t faring well in online classes
Another 2017 study of students at a for-profit university which offers both in-person and online classes found that students who took an online class not only got lower grades in that class but also in future classes. Online students were more likely to drop out of college altogether than similar students who attended in-person classes.
There are much stronger results for courses that combine supplemental materials online with traditional, face-to-face instruction. But the authors do not consider this hybrid instruction to be “online” learning.