Mapping educational trajectories: What effect does transitioning between online and on-campus courses have on learning?

Friday, April 15, 2016 2:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

Profile view of young woman in a red shirt and black pants sitting on the floor, with a laptop in her lap.
We are seeing a push towards offering more courses online because they can provide students with new forms of social and learning interaction, widen their access to education, and offer an indi­vidualized learning experience in large classes. Little research exists examining how students transfer between online and on-cam­pus courses and what effects this has on students’ academic success. Research thus far has investigated the design of online courses, reten­tion rates, and the efficacy of new technologies in terms of learning outcomes and student perception (see Beard, Harper and Riley, 2003; Diaz and Cartnel, 1999; Dutton, Dutton and Perry, 2002; Schulze, Lieb­scher and Su, 2004; Felix, 2008; Lee and Choi, 2010; Kruger-Ross and Waters, 2013). We analyzed student data from language courses with online and on-campus counterparts, to better understand the extent to which online learning enables students to meet their intended learning outcomes. Our goals were to establish how the medium of learn­ing (online vs. classroom) impacts an individual stu­dent’s academic success in these courses and in subsequent upper-year courses in the language program, to identify patterns in the students’ transitioning between online and on-campus courses, and to gather evidence-based information about students’ course choices and their decisions online vs. on-campus.We conducted a statisti­cal analysis of student data from three early university language courses offered both online and on-campus from the spring term 2004 to the winter term 2014.

Data from other higher-level courses provided us with evidence as to which stu­dents continue their language studies successfully. In addition, we conducted a qualitative analysis of surveys (n=157) and interviews (n=23) with students currently enrolled in the program. While the statistical data provided a birds-eye view of student trajectories over ten years, the surveys and interviews gave us in-depth information about individual learning trajectories and students’ curricular decisions. We gratefully acknowledge the funding of this project through a LITE seed grant.

The talk is organized through collaboration by the Centre for Teaching Excellence, the Centre for Extended Learning, the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies.