Online Students Do Worse

By By U Wire

By U Wire

GAINESVILLE, Fla.?While a recent study shows online courses may not be giving students the education they are paying for, many University of Florida professors and students feel differently.

According to a study conducted at Michigan State University, students who took courses with a live instructor received an average of 4 percent more correct test answers.

The study was performed with three different groups of students in a microeconomics course.

The first group met face to face with an instructor, the second took a hybrid course with part online features and part live lecture, while a third group took classes only online.

Some UF professors doubt the results and say online classes provide many benefits to students with a minimal, if any, drop in performance.

UF Marketing Professor Richard Lutz said he was wary of online courses at first, but has found that students in his classes are able to communicate more effectively via email.

“I was a little skeptical going into it, but I didn’t realize how intense the interaction would be,” Lutz said.

The performance of students who wouldn’t normally interact in Lutz’s graduate-level brand management course has increased because of the ability to communicate through email, he said.

Lutz said the huge advantage students receive in the flexibility of schedule and comfortable learning environment outweighs the possibility of a minor drop-off in grades.

“You could either sit in a lecture hall or in your bedroom eating popcorn,” he said.

While the less-restrictive environment works well for some students, freshman Alissa Sheiness said she needs more structure.

Sheiness has taken three online classes and said her grades suffered because she wasn’t required to watch them.

“My grade in micro[economics] was lower than it should’ve been because I stopped watching class at the end of the semester,” Sheiness said.

UF Professor Maurice Marshall’s course, Man’s Food, is offered both online and in a traditional classroom setting. He said students in his online class perform equally to students in his live lecture.

He said differences in ways students learn classroom material might be contributing factors that cause some of their grades to drop.

“Some students want to sit there and listen to lecture and need that, and there’s some that don’t,” he said.

Online courses provide a solution to the problem of overcrowded classrooms and provide students with many other benefits, but some will still have problems without more structure.

“For some people it is a big advantage, others get trapped,” Lutz said.