Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Campus, Online, or Hybrid: An Assessment of Instruction Modes

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Campus, Online, or Hybrid: An Assessment of Instruction Modes

Article excerpt


This paper presents empirical results concerning the effectiveness of campus, online, and hybrid instruction in economics. The sample consists of graduate students enrolled in macroeconomic theory or international economics courses at a regional university. Assessment of enrollment, attrition, grade distribution, faculty evaluation, and course evaluation across the various instruction modes is presented. Holding constant ability, effort, and demographic considerations, students enrolled in the online course scored over six percent lower on the final exam than campus students and four percent lower than hybrid students. There is not a statistically significant difference between student performance on the final exam between campus and hybrid modes.


There is little doubt that the online mode of instruction has become a major part of higher education and an important strategic issue for business schools. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 100 new college courses are added to the online format each month (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). In recent years, the efficacy of online instruction has been debated in the literature as the mode has become ubiquitous (Lezberg, 1998; Okula, 1999; Terry, 2000). One alternative to online instruction is the hybrid instruction mode. The hybrid mode combines some of the inherent features of the online (e.g., time independence) and campus (e.g., personal interaction) environments. The purpose of this paper is to compare student satisfaction and performance in the campus, online, and hybrid instruction modes. Standard assessment and regression techniques are employed. The research is based on graduate courses in macroeconomics and international economics at a regional university. The paper is organized as follows: First, an overview of concepts and definitions important to distinguishing the three instruction modes is provided. The next section presents assessment information relating to enrollment, attrition/drop rate, grade distribution, and student evaluation of faculty and course. Third, an empirical model testing the effectiveness of instruction mode while controlling for effort, ability, and demographic considerations is developed and employed. The final section offers conclusions and implications.


The fundamental characteristics of the campus, online, and hybrid instruction modes are not universally agreed upon. The authors acknowledge this lack of consensus but offer somewhat generic descriptions of each format in order to facilitate the research process. Campus-based or traditional instruction is probably the easiest to understand. The campus mode is characterized by student/faculty interaction via lectures, discussion, and exams on campus at scheduled times and days. There is approximately forty-five contact hours associated with a three credit hour course in most traditional campus courses. The personal interaction between students and faculty associated with campus courses is often perceived as a characteristic that facilitates high quality learning. In addition, most professors were educated via traditional campus instruction and are familiar with the learning environment from the perspective of student and instructor.

The online mode of instruction replaces the walls of the classroom with a network of computer communication. Some of the benefits of online instruction are its temporal, geographic and platform independence, and its simple, familiar and consistent interface. Some of the drawbacks are: sophistication and creativity restricted by hardware and software compatibility; resistance to shift to new and alternative teaching and learning paradigms; privacy, security, copyright, and related issues; and a lack of uniform quality (McCormack and Jones, 1998). Online instruction is heralded for providing flexibility for students in that it reduces the often-substantial transaction and opportunity costs associated with traditional campus offerings. …

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