• Learning and Experiential Outcomes of Face-to-Face Versus Online Communications Courses

      Woolsey, Shantal (2013-04-17)
      Higher education is rapidly trending toward the implementation of online (OL) courses and a blended facilitation style that incorporates both OL and face-to-face (FTF) classes. Though previous studies have explored the benefits and pitfalls of OL and blended learning formats from institutional, teacher, and student perspectives, scant research has examined learning outcomes for OL and FTF courses sharing identical content. This study used an explanatory mixed methods design—including pre- and post-test assessments, a questionnaire, and interviews—to explore similarities and differences in participant and teacher perceptions and outcomes (gain scores and final grades) of OL versus traditional FTF Communications courses, and to examine effects of students’ age and gender on learning preference and performance. Data collection occurred over a 4-month period and involved 183 student and 2 professor participants. The study used an SPSS program for data analysis and created a Microsoft Excel document to record themes derived from the questionnaire and interviews. Quantitative findings suggest there are no significant differences in gain scores, final grades, or other learning outcomes when comparing OL and FTF versions of identical Communications courses; however, qualitative findings indicate differences between facilitation styles based on student and professor perception. The study sheds light on student and faculty perceptions of facilitation styles and suggests areas for potential improvements in FTF- and OL-facilitated courses. The study ultimately recommends that students and faculty should have options when it comes to preferred delivery of course material.