This study, commissioned by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), investigates (1) patterns of online course taking among VCCS students; (2) students’ retention and performance in online versus face-to-face courses; and (3) educational outcomes for students who participate in online learning.
Findings from the study, which looked at outcomes for 2004 and 2008 cohorts, indicate that nearly half of Virginia community college students enrolled in an online course across the period of study, but that few students enrolled in a fully online curriculum in a given term.
In general, students with stronger academic preparation were more likely to enroll in online courses. Regardless of their initial level of preparation, however, students were more likely to fail or withdraw from online courses than from face-to-face courses. Students who took online coursework in early semesters were also slightly less likely to return to school in subsequent semesters, and students who took a higher proportion of credits online were slightly less likely to attain a credential or transfer to a four-year institution.