Online Student Research

An online student research project was conducted through the Institute for Faculty Research on Teaching and Learning at GRCC in 2010 and 2011.

The research question was:

"Is there a relationship between a student's learning readiness and success in an online class?"

GRCC has been offering classes in a distance learning format for over 30 years, however, the success rates of students in these classes are traditionally lower than the general population of students. 

This research surveyed a total of 4168 (N=832) students using a College Learning Effectiveness Inventory from Kansas State university.  The scales measured included the following from the CLEI Scale Description at Kansas State Univeristy:

  • "Academic Self-Efficacy (ASE) - Items on this scale measures an expression of confidence in academic ability, awareness, of effort toward study, and expectations of success in college attainment.  Those who score high have expectations to succeed and accomplish important outcome goals.  Those who score low are more likely to feel uncertain about possible acheivement and what the future may hold."
  • Organization and Attention to Study (OAS) - The organization of tasks and structuring of time to set goals, plan, and carry out necessary academic activity.
  • Stress and Time Press (STP) - Dealing with pressures of time, environmental concerns, and the academic demands that impact academic study.
  • Involvement with College Activity (ICA) - Belonging to organizations and participating in activities, including informal gatherings of friends and classmates, within the campus environment.
  • Emotional Satisfaction (ES) - Degree of interest and emotional response to academic life including people and environment.
  • Class Communication (CC) - Both verbal and non-verbal effort to engage in class activity."

Dr. Frank Conner from the Psychology Department presented research on October 28, 2011.  His report is located here [PDF].

Key Findings and Obersevations

  1. Academic Self-Eficacy was the overwhelming difference between students who passed verses those that failed.
  2. Organization and Attention to Study, Stress and Time Pressure, and Class Communication had some effect on student success.
  3. GPA was evident as a predictor of success.
  4. Students with a GPA of less than 2.0 did not pass their online class (43%) at a rate of 10% greater than those students participating in traditional courses (33%). In other words, students with a lower GPA signed up for more online classes at a disproportionate rate of 10% more.
  5. Students who passed the class completed the survey/inventory at a rate of more than 2 times that of students who failed.

Implications and Suggestions

  1. Use Academic Self-Efficacy in student screening, preparedness, and readiness for online learning.  Students need to be able to handle stress, avoid procrastination, effectively organize and plan out their study time using time management skills.
  2. Build up and train students in Academic Self-Efficacy and enhance student orientation, mentorship, and tutoring.  Teach students how to be successful in course design and in the GRCC Online Student Orientation and Readiness web site.
  3. Limit the number of courses a student can take during a single semester.
  4. Use GPA as a filter for enrolling students into online classes.
  5. Improve the organization of online courses, instructor facilitation and responsiveness, student community relationship building, and student success initiatives at the instructor, course, and intitutional level such as Starfish Early Alert.
  6. Incorporate research findings to guide faculty professional development and in the Online & Hybrid Certification Course.