The analysis of online students at urban community colleges: The demographic characteristics, reasons for enrollment, completion rates and academic performance
Chia-Li Debra Chen, University of Southern California, United States
University of Southern California . Awarded
The purpose of this three-part study is to examine differences between traditional and online study at urban colleges. Section One compares demographic characteristics; investigates differences in completion rates and academic performance of students taking both traditional and online courses; and again compares the overall completion rates and academic performance of traditional versus online students. Section Two covers students' reasons and perceptions toward online learning. Section Three covers the view of online courses by the instructors.
Subjects for Section One of the study were 191 students---150 traditional and 41 online---who participated in the California State Transfer and Retention of Urban Community College (TRUCCS) project. The demographic characteristics compared included gender, age, ethnicity, employment status, marital status, number of dependents, and home distance from school. Chi-square tests indicated that three demographic variables were significant. Students who more likely to enroll in online courses were Asian, married, and lived farther from campus. Through paired sample t-tests, the study found that students taking both traditional and online courses successfully completed more courses traditionally than online, but with no significant difference in academic performance between the two. Furthermore, through one sample t-tests, the study revealed that online learners had both lower completion rates and academic performance than their traditional counterparts.
Section Two of the study surveyed 121 online students from the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) on their reasons for enrollment and perceptions toward online learning. Students generally chose to take an online course because it was flexible, it fit their employment schedule and they could study at their own pace. Overall, students gave positive feedback regarding their online courses, but also indicated concern for a lack of interaction with classmates.
Section Three of the study interviewed 10 LACCD faculty members on their perceptions of online teaching. There were 9 out of 10 instructors believed that online courses effectively met academic goals for both teachers and students. The instructors, however, also cited some of the pitfalls of online teaching including the long and demanding course preparation, the difficulty in responding promptly to online students, and the limited teacher-student interaction.
Chen, C.L.D. The analysis of online students at urban community colleges: The demographic characteristics, reasons for enrollment, completion rates and academic performance. Ph.D. thesis, University of Southern California.
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