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Beyond Classroom Comparisons in the “What Works in Distance Education” Question: A Meta-Analysis of DE vs. DE Comparative Studies

, , , , , , , Concordia University, Canada

E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, in Quebec City, Canada ISBN 978-1-880094-63-1 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), San Diego, CA


This is a meta-analysis of the experimental literature of distance education (DE) comparing different instructional treatments with each other. A framework was developed around three major dimensions of DE: Student Interactivity, Student Autonomy, and Technological Functionality, and used to categorize studies for analysis. For example, Student Interactivity contained three categories of independent studies: those exploring Student-Student Interaction, Student-Teacher Interaction, and Student-Content Interaction. This allowed the effect size valences to be determined. Forty-five studies of achievement were included, yielding 107 effect sizes. There were 50 effect sizes for Interactivity, 25 effect sizes for Autonomy, and 32 effect sizes for Technological Functionality. Weighted average effects for the three dimensions were: g+ = 0.089, p < 0.05, g+ = -0.104, and g+ = 0.055, p < 0.05, respectively. All distributions were significantly heterogeneous, suggesting caution in interpretation.


Bernard, R., Abrami, P., Borokhovski, E., Wade, A., Tamim, R., Surkes, M. & Bethel, E. (2007). Beyond Classroom Comparisons in the “What Works in Distance Education” Question: A Meta-Analysis of DE vs. DE Comparative Studies. In T. Bastiaens & S. Carliner (Eds.), Proceedings of E-Learn 2007--World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (pp. 2345-2353). Quebec City, Canada: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved March 21, 2019 from .


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