Student Performance and Success Factors in Learning Business Statistics in Online vs. On-ground Classes using a Web-Based Assessment Platform

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5 The overall average GPA for all students was a 3.002, with each class ranging from to (Table 2). Also included in Table 2 is the performance within the class, which includes LearnSmart (LS), homework (HW), time spent on LearnSmart, and quality points for the class. Quality points at this institution are calculated on a 4.0 scale with an A equaling a 4.0, a B equaling a 3.0 and so on. This institution also includes plus and minus grades, which equate to a 0.33 increase or decrease in the QP. For example a C would equal 2.0, a C+ would be a 2.33 and a C- would equal It is expected that hours would vary from the first to the second course, but it is interesting to note the difference between online and on-ground hours (Hours in Table 2), with the average for OL2-6 extremely high at hours (a student at this institution needs 120 hours to graduate). Table 2. Averages for performance in the class, GPA, and Hours. Count GPA Hours LS Points (out of 100) HW Points (out of 300) LS Time* QP OG OG OL OG OG OL On-ground Online Grand Total Classes are categorized by on-ground statistical methods 1 (OG1), online statistical methods 1 (OL1), on-ground statistical methods 2 (OG2), and online statistical methods 2 (OL2). The number after each dash represents a different section of the course. *Note: LS Time refers to minutes per Learn Smart assignment 3.2 Data collection and measures To measure student performance and success factors between online and on-ground classes, a survey (Appendix A) was administered and completed by 138 students in 6 classes. A total of three Statistical Methods 1 courses (2 on-ground and 1 online) and 3 Statistical Methods 2 courses (2 on-ground and 1 online) were surveyed at the end of the fifteen-week 2013 fall semester. The survey asked students to rank the resources and tools (in order) used to learn topics and complete assignments. They were also asked about agreement to statements based on the five-point Likert scale regarding frequency of accessing tools, coursework, and personnel resources, as well as learning preferences. Survey statements were adapted from Dutton and Dutton (2005) and Dutton et al. (2002) to include resources specific to the study. 3.3 Analysis methods To further compare responses between online and on-ground courses, the survey responses were then integrated with student course performance as defined by final letter grades (quality points), assignment points, LearnSmart points, and time spent online using LearnSmart. For each course, 5

6 all homework and LearnSmart assignments were the same in terms of questions and points (30% and 10% of course grade respectively), and letter grades were assigned based on a standard cutoff of percentages, making comparisons possible. LearnSmart time equaled the time it took students to complete the course of flashcards for each section. Students may log on and off multiple times, but the time clock only recorded when the LearnSmart flashcards were open. All on-ground courses were taught by the same instructor, while online courses were split amongst two instructors. The only subjective portion of the online course was in grading the exams (60% of course grade). Therefore, exam grades were not individually examined as performance measures. Questionnaire groupings were identified based on specific topics for homework, technology use, textbook use, extra help, class instruction, flexibility to learn, and personal contact as prescribed in previous research (Dutton and Dutton 2005). These groupings allowed us to compare online vs. on-ground learning preferences and coursework resources (Appendix B). 4. Results To identify differences between online and on-ground students, answers were compared for all survey questions. The first set of questions stressed the weekly habits of students (Table 3). These four questions looked at the frequency a student visited Connect, viewed online course content (available for all classes online and on-ground in Desire2Learn), ed the instructor, and utilized the statistics tutoring lab. The Stats Lab comprised of graduate assistants providing free tutoring sessions in person (in 30 minute increments) to all statistics students Monday through Friday on campus within the department. Most students indicated they visited Connect and the online content between 1 and 4 times. The Stats Lab was not used by more than 80% of the students and the frequency of ing the instructor did vary based on the type of class (online or on-ground). 6

7 Table 3. Student activity per week. On average, about how many times per week did you Visit the course section on Connect Visit the course material on D2L Visit the Stats Lab the instructor Never Between Between More 1 and 4 5 and 10 than 10 OG1 0.0% 93.0% 7.0% 0.0% OL1 0.0% 93.3% 6.7% 0.0% OG2 0.0% 86.5% 9.6% 3.8% OL2 0.0% 78.6% 21.4% 0.0% OG1 10.5% 71.9% 15.8% 1.8% OL1 0.0% 80.0% 20.0% 0.0% OG2 19.2% 57.7% 19.2% 3.8% OL2 7.1% 78.6% 14.3% 0.0% OG1 84.2% 5.3% 5.3% 3.5% OL1 73.3% 13.3% 6.7% 6.7% OG2 84.6% 13.5% 1.9% 0.0% OL2 85.7% 14.3% 0.0% 0.0% OG1 50.9% 43.9% 3.5% 1.8% OL1 13.3% 66.7% 20.0% 0.0% OG2 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 0.0% OL2 28.6% 57.1% 14.3% 0.0% For the next areas of analysis, t-tests were performed in a few different areas: 1) performance; 2) order of preference of material and tools; and 3) motivating factors. These three areas offer insight not only to the differences and similarities between these two types of instruction, but also help to better understand the motives and habits of today s student. F-tests were performed first to test for equality of variances. The appropriate t-test statistic was then chosen and reported here. A significance level of 0.05 was used for all testing procedures. 4.1 Performance factors and their differences between online and on-ground courses We compared a student s performance in the class based on online versus on-ground instruction by performing t-tests for differences (Table 4). To measure performance, the quality points for the letter grade, current GPA (as of the end of their semester), points earned for homework assignments and LearnSmart assignments, and time spent on LearnSmart were compared. As indicated in Table 4, there were no significant differences between current GPA (p = 0.510), points earned on LearnSmart (p = 0.696), points earned on homework assignments (p = 0.450), and time spent on LearnSmart (p = 0.439). The difference in quality points between online and on-ground students initially looked to be large with on-ground students (2.926) performing better than online (2.505), but was not statistically significant (p = 0.080). 7

8 Table 4. Performance and use in class and school between online and on-ground courses. Performance in class and school Online On-ground Differences x = x = t = Quality Points for Class s = s = (0.080) Current GPA LearnSmart Total Points Earned x = s = x = s = HW Assignment Points Earned x = s = Total Time Spent on LearnSmart x = 23:07.98 s = 09:17.27 x = s = x = s = x = s = x = 21:28.08 s = 10:29:67 t = (0.510) t = (0.696) t = (0.450) t = (0.439) 4.2 Preferences of use for materials and tools for learning and completing work As part of our analysis, the survey asked students to rank six resources and tools (Table 5) used to either learn new topics or complete assignments. Students were to assign each resource or tool a 1 if used first and a 6 if used last, with ranking between 2 and 5 for other varying degrees of use. The resources or tools offered for ranking included homework assignments, LearnSmart, use of textbook, online video tutorials, other Connect material, and other uses of the Internet. Use of Textbook referred to a hard copy of the assigned textbook, and Other Connect Material referred to the e-book and other tutorials that were available within Connect. The video lectures and tutorials in Desire2Learn comprised the online video tutorials. Lastly, the use of the Internet referred to any other materials that were not part of the class management system or Connect. Table 5. Order of preference to learn topics and complete coursework based on the means of rank orderings. () indicates overall order of ranking. Resources/Tools Assignments LearnSmart Use of Textbook Online Video Tutorials Other Connect Material Use of Internet To learn new topics x = (1) s = x = (2) s = x = (3) s = x = (4) s = x = (6) s = x = (5) s = To complete work x = (1) s = x = (2) s = 1.19 x = (3) s = x = (4) s = x = (5) s = x = (6) s =

9 As indicated in Table 5, students tend to go to the assignment first (2.182 for new topics and for completing work), followed by LearnSmart, and then the textbook. The last three resources or tools were the online content, either through D2L (online course management system) or Connect, and other sources on the Internet. There were differences between online and on-ground students in the order they viewed tools or resources (Table 6). The order does not change much, but the varying degree of first preference is statistically significant. In terms of learning new topics, LearnSmart (p = 0.696), use of Internet (p = 0.281), and use of textbook (p = 0.059) were not significantly different. Assignments (0.002), other Connect material (p = 0.017), and D2L content (p = 0.000) were significantly different. Online students indicated their rankings for use of textbook, assignments, D2L content, and LearnSmart to be the most preferred, with the range of these four tools or resources being to Other Connect material and the use of the Internet were far behind at and Table 6. Differences between tools and materials used to learn new topics between online and on-ground courses. Resources/Tools Online On-ground Significance LearnSmart x = (4) x = (2) t = s = s = (0.696) Assignments x = (2) x = (1) t = s = s = (0.002) Other Connect Material x = (6) x = (4) t = s = s = (0.017) Online Video Tutorials x = (3) x = (6) t = s = s = (0.000) Use of Textbook x = (1) x = (3) t = Use of Internet s = x = (5) s = s = x = (5) s = (0.059) t = (0.281) On-ground students overwhelming went to their assignments (2.009) first with the next highest being LearnSmart (2.936). Next came the use of the textbook (3.422), followed by the other Connect material, use of the Internet, and then D2L content. Table 7 shows the equivalent summary for preferences in completing work. Although there was no difference in ranking for LearnSmart (p = 0.373), it was still indicated that students in online courses have an even higher preference for going straight to the assignment to complete the work (p = 0.006), regardless of whether they know the material or not. The other resources (other Connect, D2L content, textbook, and Internet) were also significantly different, with use of textbook and D2L content having a higher preference for online students as opposed to on-ground. 9

10 Table 7. Differences between tools and materials used to complete assignments between online and on-ground courses. Resources/Tools Online On-ground Significance LearnSmart x = (2) x = (2) t = s = s = (0.373) Assignments x = (1) x = (1) t = s = s = (0.006) Other Connect Material x = (5) x = (4) t = s = s = (0.087) Online Video Tutorials x = (4) x = (6) t = s = s = (0.001) Use of Textbook x = (3) x = (3) t = Use of Internet s = x = (6) s = s = x = (5) s = Differences of Coursework and Learning Preferences (0.008) t = (0.072) Students were given several statements that pertained to their motivating factors for learning and completing coursework. Based on the Likert scale, students were to determine their agreement from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5) (See Appendix A for questionnaire). After grouping the data (see Appendix B), tests (as described in Section 4) were performed to indicate differences between online and on-ground courses (Table 8). Homework and extra help were the only concepts not significantly different between the two types of classes. For homework, based on the mean of its four items, students felt homework assignments were useful (4.543 for online and for on-ground). Students were neutral on the usefulness of extra help. The other five concepts showed a significant difference between online and on-ground. Technology use and the textbook were indicated as more useful to online students than onground. For on-ground students, it was indicated that class instruction and personal contact were more useful. 10

11 Table 8. Differences of coursework resources and learning preferences between online and onground. Learning or coursework concept Online On-ground Significance Homework x = x = t =.871 s = s = (0.385) Use of Technology x = x = t = s = s = (0.000) Textbook x = x = t = s = s = (0.000) Extra Help x = x = t = s = s = (0.599) Class Instruction x = x = t = s = s = (0.000) Flexibility to Learn x = x = t = s = s = (0.004) 5. Discussion Personal Contact x = s = x = s = t = (0.007) Online and on-ground students did not perform differently in terms of course outcomes. This is consistent with the results of numerous other studies (see the Introduction). However, several differences existed in methodology of learning new topics, completing homework, and learning preferences. Online students used the textbook as their primary source of information to learn new topics, then moved on to homework assignments and online video tutorials. This stresses the importance of having a textbook for online students in addition to some form of lecture replacement (such as online video tutorials). In contrast, on-ground students looked to the homework and LearnSmart assignments as their primary resources to learn new topics. In terms of completing homework, both online and on-ground students used the assignments first, followed by Learn Smart. It is encouraging to see that online students still utilized the textbook and video tutorials to aide in homework. However, on-ground students heavily relied on homework assignments regardless of purpose. The fact that the data indicate a substantial preference for students to go directly to the assignment instead of the available materials contradicts the expected method of learning that most educators assume. The format of reading textbook material before lecture, then supplementing the concepts with at-home work may be outdated. Course designers may need to focus on a homework first teaching method, which exposes students to problems before covering the material. For instance, McGraw-Hill s Connect refers the student to the correct statistical table and gives only four multiple choice options at most, sometimes making the answer obvious. The study results highlight the importance of implementing critical thinking structure into the homework manager. Assignments could be structured as to force exposure to critical thinking concepts, for example, reading and answering 11

12 contextual questions first before encountering problems to solve, or having to choose the appropriate test without answer guidance. It seems students are good at gauging the type of class to enroll in based on their learning preferences. Based on the survey, students from both groups found the homework assignments to be most helpful. This is reflected in the fact that collectively they went to the homework assignments first to both learn new concepts and complete assignments. However, several differences did exist. Online students have catered to their own set of learning preferences, opting for schedule flexibility and utilization of multiple resources. When given the same resources, onground students tended to de-emphasize such materials and placed high emphasis on class instruction for content outside of homework. This may not be surprising, but is useful in guiding an undecided student to the type of class during enrollment. 6. Conclusion This study examined the mechanisms used to learn coursework material and complete homework, as well as student success factors in completing online and on-ground business statistics. The research findings suggest that students displaying more resourcefulness and desire for flexibility should be guided toward online courses, as opposed to students heavily relying on the face-to-face contact present in the lecture format. The findings also suggest a change in the way educators should view the habits of their students from learning and then trying assignments to trying assignments and then learning the material to complete the assignment. The implications for this are quite interesting if this information is embraced and educators cater to students habits by creating homework assignments that enable students to learn the material as they go. Further research should include the implementation of this new approach to learning concepts, and comparing student outcomes and preferences between the standard and new approach. 12

14 9. Rank the following resources from 1 (used first) to 6 (used last) in: Order for learning new topics (1 6) Order for completing assignments (1-6) Learn Smart Assignment Problems Other Connect Materials Course Content in D2L Textbook Internet Coursework and Personnel Resources Answer questions based on your agreement to the following statements. I found 10. the Learn Smart assignments useful in learning the course material. 11. the homework assignment problems useful in learning the course material. 12. the homework guided examples useful in learning the course material. 13. the homework two attempts useful in learning the course material. 14. the check my work option in Connect useful in learning the course material. 15. other Connect materials useful in learning the course material. 16. course content in D2L useful in learning the course material. 17. the Excel tutorials in D2L useful in learning the course material. 18. the course textbook (hardcopy) useful in learning the course material. 19. the course textbook (e-book) useful in learning the course material. 20. the Internet useful in learning the course material. 21. the Stats Lab to be beneficial in learning the course material. 22. the professor s office hours to be beneficial in learning the course material ing the instructor to be beneficial in learning the course material. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree 14

15 Learning Preference Answer questions based on your agreement to the following statements. Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree 24. Attending regular class meetings is an important motivator for me. 25. Flexibility in setting pace and time for studying is important to me. 26. I learn better from hearing a lecture I learn better from reading lecture materials. I learn better from watching videos. 29. I learn better when I have face-to-face contact with my fellow students. 30. I learn better from student study groups. 31. If I need help, I m more likely to my instructor than to meet with him/her face-to-face. 32. Face-to-face contact with the instructors of my classes is very important to me. 33. Face-to-face contact with fellow students in my classes is very important to me. 15

16 Questionnaire groupings based on topics. Appendix B Coursework and Personnel Resources Homework Q11 I found the homework assignment problems useful in learning the course material. Q12 I found the homework guided examples useful in learning the course material. Technology Use Q13 Q14 Q15 Q16 Q17 I found the homework two attempts useful in learning the course material. I found the check my work option in Connect useful in learning the course material. I found other Connect materials useful in learning the course material. I found course content in D2L useful in learning the course material. I found the Excel tutorials in D2L useful in learning the course material. Textbook Use Q18 I found the course textbook (hardcopy) useful in learning the course material. Q19 I found the course textbook (e-book) useful in learning the course material. Extra Help Q21 I found the Stats Lab to be beneficial in learning the course material. Class Instruction Flexibility to Learn Personal contact Q22 Q23 Q24 Q26 Q25 Q27 Q28 Q29 Q30 Q33 I found the professor s office hours to be beneficial in learning the course material. I found ing the instructor to be beneficial in learning the course material. Attending regular class meetings is an important motivator for me. I learn better from hearing a lecture. Flexibility in setting pace and time for studying is important to me. I learn better from reading lecture materials. I learn better from watching videos. I learn better when I have face-to-face contact with my fellow students. I learn better from student study groups. Face-to-face contact with fellow students in my classes is very important to me. 16

17 References Bonham, S. W., Deardorff, D. L., and Beichner, R. J. (2003), Comparison of Student Performance Using Web and Paper-based Homework in College-level Physics, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(10), D Orsie, S., and Day, K. (2006), Ten Tips for Teaching a Web Course, Tech Directions, 65(7), Dutton, J., Dutton, M., and Perry, J. (2002), How do Online Students Differ from Lecture Students? Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 6(1), Dutton, J., and Dutton, M. (2005), Characteristics and Performance of Students in an Online Section of Business Statistics, Journal of Statistics Education, 13(3). Available at Felder, R. M., and Silverman, L. K. (1988), Learning Styles and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education, Engineering Education, 78(7), Felder, R. M. (1993), Reaching the Second Tier Learning and Teaching Styles in College Science Education, Journal of College Science Teaching, 23(5), Gaffney, M. A., Ryan, D., and Wurst, C. (2010), Do Online Homework Systems Improve Student Performance? Advances in Accounting Education [online], Available at tudent_performance. Gardner, H. (1983), Frames of Mind, New York: Basic Book Inc. Grinder, B. (2008), Automated Online Homework Managers: Filling the Gaps with Flash TM, Journal of Financial Education, 34, Guterl, S. (2013), Is Teaching to a Student s Learning Style a Bogus Idea? Scientific American [online]. Available at Kirtman, L. (2009), Online Versus In-Class Courses: An Examination of Differences in Learning Outcomes, Issues in Teacher Education, 8(2), Kolb, D. A. (1981), Learning Styles and Disciplinary Differences, in The Modern American College, ed. A. W. Chickering, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Lenz, L. (2010), The Effect of a Web-Based Homework System on Student Outcomes in a First-Year Mathematics Course, Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 29(3),

18 Li, C., Poe, F., Potter, M., Quigley, B. and Wilson, J. (2011), UC Libraries Academic e-book Usage Survey [online], Springer e-book Pilot Project. Available at McNeish, J., Foster, M., Francescucci, A., and West, B. (2012), The Surprising Foil to Online Education: Why Students Won t Give up Paper Textbooks, Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education, 20(3), Montgomery, S. M. and Groat, L. N. (1998), Student Learning Styles and Their Implications for Teaching, The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching Occasional Papers, The University of Michigan, 10, 1-8. Myers, I. B. and Myers, P. B. (1980), Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type, Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing. Oliver, R. (1999), Exploring Strategies for Online Teaching and Learning, Distance Education, 20(3), Russell, T. (1999), The No Significant Difference Phenomenon, North Carolina State University. Salmon, G. (2004), E-moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, New York: Routledge. Thayer, A., Lee, C., Hwang, L., Sales, H., Sen, P. and Dalal, N. (2011), The Imposition and Superimposition of Digital Reading Technology: The Academic Potential of E-Readers, CH1 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Ward, B. (2004), The Best of Both Worlds: A Hybrid Statistics Course, Journal of Statistics Education [online], 12(3). Available at Mary Shotwell Dept. of Computer Information Systems Jones College of Business Middle Tennessee State University 1301 E Main St Murfreesboro, TN Charles Apigian Dept. of Computer Information Systems Jones College of Business Middle Tennessee State University 1301 E Main St Murfreesboro, TN

19 Volume 23 (2015) Archive Index Data Archive Resources Editorial Board Guidelines for Authors Guidelines for Data Contributors Guidelines for Readers/Data Users Home Page Contact JSE ASA Publications 19

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