Online Students at Community Colleges: The Paradox of Lower Grades and Higher Completion Rates!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article this morning discussing the paradox of community college student performance in online courses.  The article points to:

“… a  growing body of research that shows community-college students are much more likely to fail a class taken online than one taken face to face, and grades in online courses are often lower…However, online courses are actually contributing to better completion rates in degree programs, arguably the more important metric when considering the impact of an education on a student’s future. A national study published in 2014 found that community-college students who take at least one online course are as much as 25 percent more likely to earn a degree than those who study only in physical classrooms. Many factors are at play, but for many students the convenience of online can mean the difference between staying in a degree program or dropping out.”

Some have called this the “online paradox,” and it highlights the complicated track record of the shift to digital classrooms.”

The article raises something that those of us involved with online learning have observed and discussed.  One of the national studies referenced above was conducted by Dr. Peter Shea at SUNY Albany, who is a colleague at the Online Learning Consortium. 

The article concludes with mention of initiatives in California to expand online learning at its community colleges.




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