The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, April 25, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Online learning in the UNC system received its report card in late October, when the General Administration found that depending on the field, students are more likely to withdraw or not complete online courses than their peers in face-to-face sections.

The report — which examined a range of disciplines, including the humanities, sciences and protective services — analyzed the likelihood of a UNC-system student withdrawing or receiving a D or F in face-to-face and online instruction methods in specific disciplines. The results were tabulated for courses that were offered both face-to-face and online.

There was no difference in performance in regards to whether a student has face-to-face or online instruction in almost half the fields analyzed. The report also said that much of the e-learning efforts in the system are new, and evaluating them could be premature.

But an early evaluation found that in some fields, like mathematics and statistics, students often see better results in face-to-face instruction than in online courses.

The study also found that in certain fields, freshmen are more likely than upperclassmen to not complete or withdraw from courses. In some fields, such as protective services and cultural and gender studies, online freshmen are more likely to receive a D or F than upperclassmen.

The research was compiled in accordance with the UNC system’s five-year plan and assesses the quality of online education as the system steps toward a more online-integrated education model.

Researchers from the General Administration contributed to the study: Maggie O’Hara, the director of e-learning, Austin Lacy, a senior research analyst and Kate Henz, the senior director of academic policy and funding analyses. They said in a joint email statement that they are trying to bring classes to North Carolinians.

“Online is only one of many ways in which we do this: face-to-face, hybrid, remote campuses and even (massive online open courses),” they said in joint email statement.

The joint statement also said that some of the differences between the D, F and withdrawal rates of freshmen and upperclassmen could be attributed to freshmen dropouts or transfers, as well as students’ improvement over time.

Senior Katie Hunter said she didn’t think her online POLI 101 class was as rigorous or clear as face-to-face instruction.

“I really feel that I wasn’t able to get any help on anything,” she said.

The system’s General Administration plans to explore student preparation for online courses, professional development engaged by faculty and a course’s conduciveness to modern learning platforms.

“What we need to do is to keep monitoring the learning from all our classes and seek ways to improve learning outcomes through both faculty and student development activities,” the administrators said.

state@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.