Study Finds Online Courses ‘Reduce’ Students Grade Outcomes

Learning Research

Study Finds Online Courses ‘Reduce’ Students Grade Outcomes

Jun 20, 2017

ONLINE GPAs: A Brookings study on DeVry University, a for-profit institution, shows that students taking an online course received lower grades than students taking the equivalent course in-person. Specifically, students taking the in-person option received on average a B-, while those taking the same class online earned a C. The study also showed that taking online courses at DeVry reduced a student’s GPA by 0.15 points.

In addition, the authors state that students taking courses online were more likely to drop out of school. “In the semester after taking an online course,” the report summary reads, “students are about 9 percentage points less likely to remain enrolled.” Drop outs and declines in GPA due to taking online courses were also found to be most common for lowest performing students.

Extrapolating the study’s findings to all online learning experiences might seem like a stretch, but the authors defend their choice to focus on DeVry because it offers every course in-person and online, and both follow the same syllabus, textbooks, assignments and grading rubrics.

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