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ERIC Number: ED561973
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-May
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 16
Online Learning and Student Outcomes in California's Community Colleges
Johnson, Hans; Mejia, Marisol Cuellar
Public Policy Institute of California
As costs of attending college have risen and access to higher education has declined, policymakers and community college officials are looking to online learning as one way to better serve student needs, increase access, promote completion, and increase transfer to four-year universities--all in a cost-effective manner. Online learning is still a relatively new phenomenon. Although it has generated a great deal of interest in policy and higher education circles, only a few studies have rigorously examined the effect of online courses on student outcomes using a large and representative set of online courses. Specifically, the Community College Research Center at Teacher's College, Columbia University, has conducted rigorous large-scale examinations of online learning in the community colleges of Washington state and Virginia (Xu and Jaggars 2011, 2013a, 2013b). Other studies have compared student performance between online and traditional courses; however, most of these studies focus on one or two specific courses or are descriptive in nature. Because the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office (CCCCO) provided the authors with access to unique longitudinal student- and course-level data from all of the state's 112 community colleges, they were able to rigorously examine the effect of online courses for hundreds of thousands of students. For online courses to be a cost-effective alternative to traditional, face-to-face courses, they not only need to be less expensive but must also yield comparable student outcomes. In this report, because cost data are not readily available, the authors focus on student outcomes. They answer three central questions: (1) What are the enrollment trends in online learning?; (2) How do online courses compare to traditional courses in terms of successful completion?; and (3) What is the relationship between online learning and long-term student outcomes, particularly earning a certificate for a degree or transferring to a four-year university? [The authors received research support from Kevin Cook. For the technical appendices for this study "Online Learning in California Community Colleges. Technical Appendices," see ED561973.]
Public Policy Institute of California. 500 Washington Street Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111. Tel: 415-291-4400; Fax: 415-291-4401; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Donald Bren Foundation
Authoring Institution: Public Policy Institute of California
Identifiers - Location: California