Given the rapid growth in online coursework within higher education, it is important to establish and validate quality standards for these courses. While many online learning quality rubrics do exist, thus far there has been little empirical evidence establishing a clear link between specific aspects of course quality and concrete, student-level course outcomes.
In this paper, the authors develop an online course quality rubric that comprises four areas, and they explore the relationship between each quality area and student end-of-semester performance in 23 online courses at two community colleges. The results indicate that the quality of interpersonal interaction within a course relates positively and significantly to student grades. Additional analyses based on course observation and interview data suggest that frequent and effective student-instructor interaction creates an online environment that encourages students to commit themselves to the course and perform stronger academically.
A version of this paper titled "How Do Online Course Design Features Influence Student Performance?" will be published in a forthcoming issue of Computers and Education and is currently available online.