This chapter, updated in 2019 for the fourth edition of Handbook of Distance Education, reviews the literature on online learning in community colleges, focusing on patterns of student online course-taking, student performance in online versus face-to-face courses, and factors affecting online course performance.
Nearly every study comparing course completion rates between online and face-to-face community college courses has concluded that online completion rates are substantially lower. Evidence suggests that online learning may also negatively impact students’ grades and undercut progression among community college students.
Poor online performance rates in community colleges are not simply due to the characteristics of students who choose to enroll in those courses. Challenges related to the online format—including technical difficulties, a sense of isolation, a relative lack of structure, and a general lack of support—may contribute to poor performance, particularly among community college students.
This chapter was originally published in Handbook of Distance Education (3rd ed.), edited by Michael Grahame Moore.