Academic journal article Yale Economic Review

Internet Courses VS Classrom Courses

Academic journal article Yale Economic Review

Internet Courses VS Classrom Courses

Article excerpt

Over the last forty years, states have faced overwhelming debt loads, resulting in severe problems allocating adequate resources to their public universities. This increased strain has prompted growing support for internet-based instruction, but the nature of this teaching begs the question: are internet courses sufficient replacements to traditional methods of classroom-based teaching?

In their June 2010 article, "Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning," David Figlio, a Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, Mark Rush from the University of Florida, and Lu Yin, a postdoctoral student also at Florida, aim to answer this question by testing these two methods of teaching. In the United States, online courses have a unique appeal to both students and professors: they can be watched at a student's leisure and, tied to this reason, may hold a student's attention better than a filled lecture hall. However, a key component is missing: incentive. Figlio and Rush argue that when students are placed into online courses, there is a weaker incentive to keep up with the syllabus schedule. As a result, lastminute cramming and poor planning are much more common.

To test this, the authors chose a highly selective public university as their sample population. In an introductory economics course, the course was split into two groups: volunteers and non-volunteers. Non-volunteers had chosen to take the class lecture. The volunteers for the study were randomly assigned into an online course group and a class lecture group. Throughout the course of the semester, graduate students supervised to ensure that no volunteers in one group would use resources offered by the other group. …

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