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ERIC Number: EJ874978
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 24
ISSN: ISSN-1528-3518
Reevaluating Course Completion in Distance Education: Avoiding the Comparison between Apples and Oranges
Howell, Scott L.; Laws, R. Dwight; Lindsay, Nathan K.
Quarterly Review of Distance Education, v5 n4 p243-252 2004
Critics of distance education frequently assert that completion rates are lower in distance education courses than in traditional courses. Such criticism comes despite sparse and inconclusive research on completion rates for distance and traditional education courses. This article reviews some of the existing research and then describes some of the caveats and complexities in comparing completion rates in traditional and distance education. Analysis reveals that numerous factors make comparison between these two formats difficult, if not impossible. Problems include limitations in the research design itself, differences in student demographics, and inconsistent methods of calculating and reporting completion. After exploring these issues, the article presents best practices for improving completion rates while emphasizing that distance education completion rates may be acceptable after considering distant learner characteristics.
IAP - Information Age Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 79049, Charlotte, NC 28271-7047. Tel: 704-752-9125; Fax: 704-752-9113; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A