Effects of course modality in summer session: Enrollment patterns and student performance in face-to-face and online classes

Fischera, Xu, Rodriguez, Denarod, & Warschauer / The Internet and Higher Education / November 2019

Online summer courses offer opportunities to catch-up or stay on-track with course credits for students who cannot otherwise attend face-to-face summer courses. While online courses may have certain advantages, participation patterns and student success in summer terms are not yet well understood. This quantitative study analyzed four years of institutional data cumulating in 72,441 course enrollments of 23,610 students in 433 courses during summer terms at a large public research university. Multi-level logistic regression models indicated that characteristics including gender, in-state residency, admission test scores, previous online course enrollment, and course size, among others, can influence student enrollment by course modality. Multi-way fixed effects linear regression models indicated that student grades were slightly lower in online courses compared to face-to-face courses. However, at-risk college student populations (low-income students, first-generation students, low-performing students) were not found to suffer additional course performance penalties of online course participation.