Determining the effectiveness of web-based distance education in mitigating the rural-urban achievement gap

Sheppard, Philip B. (Philip Bruce) (2009) Determining the effectiveness of web-based distance education in mitigating the rural-urban achievement gap. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This study was designed to understand how the delivery method of web-based distance courses compares to that used in classroom-based courses and to determine whether students in web-based distance courses perform on par with those in classroom-based courses, if given the same contexts. Until this is more fully understood, any differences in achievement levels between web-based distance courses and classroom-based courses will be poorly understood, leaving the potential that future decision-making will be based on simplistic notions related to any existing differences. It is the intent of this study to compare student achievement between web-based distance and classroom-based courses with particular focus on determining the effectiveness of web-based distance education in lessening the rural-urban achievement gap. -- The data for this study came from the Department of Education, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Center for Distance Learning and Innovation, Newfoundland and Labrador. I studied two cohorts of high school chemistry and physics students who completed Level II and Level III science courses between September 2002 and June 2005. These students were categorized into four groups based on locality (rural or urban) and course delivery method (classroom-based or web-based). The categories were as follows: (1) urban students who enrolled only in classroom-based chemistry and physics courses, (2) rural students who enrolled only in classroom-based chemistry and physics courses, (3) rural students who enrolled in Level II classroom-based chemistry and physics courses and Level III web-based chemistry and physics courses, and (4) rural students who enrolled only in web-based chemistry and physics courses. A repeated measures general linear model was used to predict students' achievement in the Level II and Level III chemistry and physics courses in each of the above noted categories. -- The main finding from this analysis was that there were no achievement differences between urban students who enrolled only in classroom-based chemistry and physics courses, and rural students who enrolled only in web-based chemistry and physics courses. However, there was an achievement difference between urban and rural students who enrolled in Level III classroom-based chemistry and physics courses. Consequently, I conclude that web-based distance education chemistry and physics courses delivered through CDLI are not only as effective as the physics and chemistry courses offered in the traditional classroom-based environment, but they have the potential to overcome the achievement gap between rural and urban students that has traditionally favored the urban students.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8743
Item ID: 8743
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 82-89)
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2009
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Distance education students--Rating of; Distance education--Evaluation; Education, Rural; Education, Secondary; Education, Urban

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