2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

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Online Education Works Less Well For Certain Student Groups

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Di Xu

Di Xu

Shanna Smith Jaggars

Shanna Smith Jaggars

In February, a paper issued from Teachers College's Community College Research Center found that males, black students and students with lower levels of academic preparation experienced “significantly stronger negative coefficients for online learning compared with their counterparts, in terms of both course persistence and course grade.”

The paper was recently cited in the publication Diverse Issues in Higher Learning, in a story titled "Institutions Are Increasingly Incorporating Online Technologies Into Their Long-Term Plans."

“These results provide support for the notion that students are not homogeneous in their adaptability to the online delivery format and may therefore have substantially different outcomes for online learning,” states the TC paper, titled Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas. The paper, authored by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars, is based on a dataset of nearly 500,000 courses taken by 40,000 or so community and technical college students in Washington State.

“These patterns also suggest that performance gaps between key demographic groups already observed in face-to-face classrooms … are exacerbated in online courses,” the paper states. “This is troubling from an equity perspective: If this pattern holds true across other states and educational sectors, it would imply that the continued expansion of online learning could strengthen, rather than ameliorate, educational inequity.”
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