ERIC Number: ED429524
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
What's the Difference? A Review of Contemporary Research on the Effectiveness of Distance Learning in Higher Education.
Phipps, Ronald; Merisotis, Jamie
This report presents findings of a review of the current research on the effectiveness of distance education in higher education. Major findings indicate, first, there is a paucity of truly original research dedicated to explaining or predicting phenomena related to distance learning; and, second, although most studies indicate that distance learning courses compare favorably with classroom-based instruction, the overall quality of the research is questionable and thereby renders the findings inconclusive. Key shortcomings of the research identified include: (1) much of the research does not control for extraneous variables and therefore cannot show cause and effect; (2) most of the studies do not use randomly selected subjects; (3) the validity and reliability of the instruments used to measure student outcomes and attitudes are questionable; and (4) many studies do not adequately control for the feelings and attitudes of students and faculty. Among specific research gaps identified are outcomes of complete programs rather than individual courses and reasons for high drop-out rates in distance courses. Implications drawn concern what "access to college" means, the importance of human contact in education, and the relatively limited importance of technology. Appended are an overview of the original research and other research syntheses. (Contains 70 references.) (DB)
Descriptors: Access to Education, College Outcomes Assessment, Distance Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Effectiveness, Research Methodology, Research Needs, Student Attitudes, Teacher Attitudes, Test Reliability, Test Validity
Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1320 19th St., NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036; Tel: 202-861-8223; Fax: 202-861-9307; Web site: http://www.ihep.com (free).
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC.; National Education Association, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Institute for Higher Education Policy, Washington, DC.