Online Learning Effectiveness Research

Ramage, Thomas (2002) "The 'No Significant Difference' Phenomenon: A Literature Review"

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A review of recent studies related to the efficiency, effectiveness and appropriateness of online instruction. One conclusion: “Researchers have looked at distance education from many perspectives, excluding and including various technologies from definitions, in order to make a definitive pronunciation in response to what would seem to be a very simple question: Does technology impact learning? This review found no study, no evidence of any kind that categorically proves that technology does not impact learning in some way, positively or negatively. There is great debate, with substantial arguments and supporting data on both sides, and many suggestions from those doing the research on how it might be improved.”


In a 1991 review of research related to the correlation of grades to work achievement post graduation, Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) reviewed over 2,600 studies on the effects of college on a variety of components, notably finding that a high quality undergraduate experience is a function of both academic performance and satisfying social relations. Additionally, they reviewed a significant number of studies that the correlation between student transcripts and work achievement is nearly irrelevant. This is significant in that it calls into question the validity and reliability of not only effectiveness studies related to technology and education, but traditional educational methods as well. Ehrmann (1995 p. 22) picks up on this thread in order to make the point that it must first be determined that what is being taught is appropriate, before any consideration is given to technology (media).

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