By Catherine Groux
Overall, the report states that persistence rates and learning outcomes are fairly similar in on-campus and online classes, although web-based education fared slightly worse in both categories. Researchers found that students’ average persistence rate across all courses was 94.12%. In online courses specifically, this figure was lowered to 91.19%. Similarly, while the average grade in all courses was a 2.95 (on a 4.0-point scale), this figure was 2.77 in online classes.
However, the danger lies in the fact that for many groups, such as men and younger college students, the pros of online learning may not overshadow the cons. Sacrificing grades and persistence for cheaper, easier access to education could lead to an achievement gap in academia, Jaggars said. In this way, she is worried that online courses are weakening the quality of education students receive.
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