The Effectiveness of Online Vs Offline Classes
Campuses all over the country are creating programs that benefit everyone by giving all students a fair shot at being inclusive into the higher education system by offering flexible learning opportunities. Despite the strong claims in favor of modern technology and the internet, there is also strong opposition against it (Arevalo, 2016). Internet usage can contribute to unnecessary distractions, through the use of emails, dating sites, shopping, social media, etc., resulting in a shift of focus from the students’ academics. The aim of this study was to determine if students preferred online courses compared to traditional face-to-face settings. It is predicted that traditional face-to-face classes are more effective than online classes. The data for this study was collected using Survey Monkey. Participants consisted of students currently enrolled in Santiago Canyon College. Results indicated that online teaching professors were less effective with delivering materials than those professors who taught in a face-to-face setting. The study concluded that the data analyzed differed in preference and there was no consistency with previous studies.
The Effectiveness of Online Classes
How it works
Online courses have become very popular for the past few years. Many top-named schools are offering their prospective students more flexibility with their learning opportunities, in order to stay competitive. As convenient as they could be, classes taught online are not always beneficial for everyone. Previous studies showed that students get a better learning experience from a traditional face-to-face setting classroom. However, teenagers are now getting their GED or finishing high school online. Trade schools are also offered online and are now becoming a thing of the present. As if that was not good enough, the younger generations are being offered courses online, making K-12 online education popular. Whether students decide to pursue their education, regardless of whether they choose a traditional face-to-face school setting or courses being taught online, studies in previous years found that online courses can be beneficial for some and convenient. Keep in mind though, that despite some of the advantages and benefits of online classes, online learning could potentially affect a student’s academic success in a negative way.
The popularity of courses being taught online has become very popular to all age groups because it is convenient. Singe’s parents struggle between working two jobs to reach an end meet and staying in school. Other parents cannot leave their homes due to babysitting issues or not having enough money to afford one. Also, being a teenager with no means of transportation to get to his or her local college. It has become so easy to get an education from the comfort of their home with the majority of schools around the world offering flexible learning opportunities. College students vary between age groups; depending on their age or the level of comfort in using technology, a student will draw his or her preference towards a face-to-face class or just a class taught online.
Since classes being taught online do not require a physical room for professors to teach in, they can now hold a lot more students in one course instead of the typical 20 to 30 student limit per classroom. Additionally, the demand for such classes makes it easier to get registered for the class instead of being waitlisted. However, it has been discovered that the courses being taught online can also create obstacles for the student. Students are no longer getting the hands-on approach that was once being used nor is it being implemented. That is not all; students are not as focused on their studies as those who take normal face-to-face courses. There is also a higher chance that they will procrastinate and slack off in the near future.
On the other hand, traditional face-to-face classes ideally are also beneficial. Students that are accustomed to face-to-face classroom settings have the opportunity to attend class physically. The flexibility of these classes helps students modify the way they want to learn. Students, who do not like online courses because they are used to normal classroom settings, have the ability to do and go to class, and that is alright. Online courses are not for everyone but are starting to become popular and the demands for more online courses have increased. It has become a new way of teaching and the younger generations seem to be adapting to this change quite well. However, there is not enough research done, in order to fully understand how one format could negatively impact a student, or if one of the formats is better than the other.
Higher education taught online is a very comprehensive topic. In order to fully see the bigger picture and determine what formats are better and if there is, in fact, a lack of effectiveness between each other, it would require a more systematic way of approaching studies within this category. This study attempted to provide insight in regards to how Santiago Canyon College students perceived teacher performance in online courses. Based on the study, it was hypothesized that there was a negative correlation between the effectiveness of online teachers and how they presented their course materials. In other words, it was predicted that students who took online courses would report a poor evaluation of the teacher’s performance.
This study consisted of 17 undergraduates that were currently enrolled in Santiago Canyon College. There were 14 females and 2 males, between the ages of 19 – 23 (82.35%) and 27 years of age and older (17.65%). One participant classified themselves as “other” in the gender category (11.77%). In addition, this study included a wide range of majors. This study included a diversity of ethnicities. Participants from Santiago Canyon College were currently enrolled in Dr. Cannon’s online Research Methods course (Fall 2018). All participants were given access to the survey link by one member of the group. The students were not compensated nor received extra credit in exchange for their participation.
Students were grouped into teams of at least five people. Each member of the team took turns contributing their ideas and sample questions. The survey was constructed using Survey Monkey, an online survey. One member of the group was to post the survey link on Canvas. Participants were informed beforehand that all answers were confidential. Every student was requested to complete the survey between a one-week period (October 14 and October 19 of the year 2018). The survey consisted of a total of 10 questions; 3 of those questions pertained to the demographics of the participant (i.e., gender, age, and employment) in order to get a little more background on the participants’ that participated.
The effectiveness of online classes versus face-to-face classes was examined by the preference for the set schedules that on-campus classes create. An example of a question included whether students found online teachers “more effective,” “less effective,” or “the same” level of effectiveness when delivering class materials than those teachers who taught in a face-to-face environment. Another point for calculating effectiveness was using a five-point Likert agreement scale to determine the level of agreement or disagreement between traditional face-to-face courses and courses taught online.
In order to measure how much time a participant spent working, they were asked to indicate the number of hours they worked a week. A Likert agreement scale was used to determine the level of trueness the question pertained to them. Also, in order to examine if driving affected the participants’ decisions, they were asked to state whether they lived within 20 minutes of the campus. Lastly, other questions like if students had access to a computer at home were also taken into consideration. Lastly, computer usage and whether distractions occurred, whether they were in a school environment or not were also analyzed.
A variety of diagrams were used to analyze the effectiveness of traditional face-to-face courses and courses taught online. To determine whether students preferred online courses over face-to-face settings and the level of effectiveness of materials being delivered to their students in the two different type environments, graphs and charts display the information gathered from the online survey.
A little more than half of the participants (as shown in Figure 1) indicated that they got easily distracted when using a computer for academic purposes (59%). However, a cast majority of them (82.35%) responded that they found it easier to learn in a school environment (see Fig. 2) and they had a higher preference on a set schedule than on-campus classes provided (seen in Fig. 6). In Figure 4, the diagram shows that all participants (100%) reported having access to a computer at home. Using a Likert agreement scale (shown in Fig. 8) most participants indicated that they neither agree nor disagree nor just disagree; with disagreeing being slightly lower. However, when asked if the participants found online professors more or less effective with delivering materials than those who taught in a face-to-face setting, the data portrayed in Figure 3, that 59% of the participant said professors were less effective, 35% of them said both were the same, and 6% said professors were more effective.
Data displayed in Figure 5, displayed no significant relationship between school location and their preference on how a class was delivered (face-to-face or online). That is, the distance between the student’s home and the community college did not play a factor in their preference of school settings.
The data gathered from this study indicated that the same percentage of people thought online courses were not better than face-to-face settings and others remained neutral about their preferences. It is presumed that professors who taught online were less effective in delivering materials than those professors who taught in a face-to-face environment. The perception that online classes are better is a serious concern. Data gathered from the survey did not support the hypothesis. The topic on academic flexibility is composed of a number of related and non-related factors along with limitations.
Whether or not traditional face-to-face classes are more effective than online classes and have an effect on a student’s academic success, the question will remain on hand. After analyzing the data collected, the results of this study were not consistent with previous studies. It can be presumed that there are different factors affecting this study. The results from this survey displayed differences compared to other research conducted. In Paquette, Corbett, and Casses’ (2015) study, student evaluation response rates of teacher performance did not accurately reflect the perceptions and positive feedback received about the professor, whether it was verbally or through email. Students claimed that they were never informed about the evaluations on their feedback about the professors teaching performance. An increasing number of students are engaged in choosing not to evaluate their teacher’s teaching performance. Evaluations have become of little to no importance to students now a day. Evaluations are critical in courses being taught online, as they determine the effectiveness and credibility of the person teaching it and the course itself.
This study presented several limitations throughout the entire survey process. The majority of the participants that took the survey consisted of more females than males (14:2 ratio). This study could have been implicated some bias since the students are being graded on completing the coursework of the results they collected. The participation of the participants and a reflection on their grades in a class by being a “good student” by taking the survey for their fellow classmates could have caused some discrepancies in the results collected.
In addition, another limitation of the study is created through the restriction of response options. Participants were not given enough freedom to freely express their answers. This study did not include any fill-in-the-blank type of questions. Due to the low number of participants, this may have produced restrictions and resulted in inconsistencies from the information that was gathered in this study. Therefore, the data analyzed is not sufficient to make a definite conclusion.
In spite of the limitations presented, future research may find it beneficial to investigate other strategies and methods. This new finding may enable us to have a better understanding of the effectiveness between online courses and traditional face-to-face settings. Other factors may be playing a role in this study that we are not aware of. An example, bad experiences may leave negative memories in a student, leaving them scarred and never wanting to take an online class ever again. Another negative effect could be the amount of coursework overload for some of the online classes compared to face-to-face classes. A common misconception that one is better than the other; needs to be addressed. Rather, examining a larger sample size/population, with different economic backgrounds, experiences, different campuses, and an equal amount of undergraduate status. With that said, it may also be beneficial to examine and compare the workload between different types of subjects. Overall, this may help us better understand and see the bigger picture behind similarities and the classes being taught online, face-to-face classes, and the causes behind ineffective teacher performance, and the way the materials are being presented.
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