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ERIC Number: ED529663
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Oct-21
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 13
Online Courses and Optimal Class Size: A Complex Formula
Arzt, Judy
Online Submission
The purpose of this study was to conduct descriptive, exploratory research to answer the questions: What is the ideal class size for online courses? What are the variables that affect optimal class size in this environment? As a study of the literature, the goal was to collect research-based evidence supporting optimal class size. The initial impetus for the research was the planned implementation of a Nursing Doctoral Practice degree program with online components. Initially, 40+ sources were collected. Studies that used experimental design as well as qualitative methods were used for the final sampling. Research that was theoretical in nature was generally excluded unless it provided information about variables to study in answering the research questions. Results of the studies revealed that 12-22 students per class were desirable. Variables that affected decisions about optimal class size included: (1) the nature of the discipline, syllabus, course objectives, and expected outcomes; (2) instructor's prior experience teaching online and comfort level with the technology; (3) the nature of the students in the class, for instance, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral level; (4) overall institutional support in terms of faculty workload and technology staff assistance. Student learning styles and instructor teaching styles were also found to affect optimal learning in terms of class size. Future study needs to address the role of evolving technologies--social media, video conferencing, e-texts--on determination of optimal class size. Given the dramatic expected increases in the demand for online learning, educational institutions must continue to explore suitable class sizes within the context of prevailing variables.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A