Originally published: September 16, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:45am
Higher education's embrace of online courses could hurt the performance of some groups of students, according to a study that contradicts the findings of a 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) showing that online students perform as well, or better, than their peers in face-to-face settings on average.
Research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) suggests that males, Hispanics, and low-performing students might fare worse in web-based classes than they do in the traditional classroom -- a problem exacerbated by the high rate of online course adoption at community colleges and "less selective institutions," where these three groups are most likely to attend.
The rush to make online courses widely available and save colleges money in difficult economic times might be "inadvertently ... harming a significant portion of their student body," according to the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and ED.
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