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Research Using Course-level Data – Methodology


In doing research on student outcomes in online education, access to student data is not always available or there may be barriers to accessing the data, such as privacy regulations. In some cases, course-level data is more easily accessed. For example, you may not have access to individual students’ grades in a data set, but you may have the average grades for a set of courses.

What can you learn from this course-level data? How can you use the data to answer your research questions? Read the frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did we get the data?

Data access involved approval from Oregon State’s Institutional Review Board, registrar’s office and detailed discussions with our internal data analyst.

2. What did we do with the data?

This study included initial examination of the data files, manipulation, restructuring and computing of the data.

3. How did we build a one-instructor data set?

We developed a methodology for matching courses. This involved identifying courses that were taught by the same instructor teaching face to face and online. Courses were also matched by term taught and class size.

4. What did we analyze?

The study outcomes examined were course-level GPA and course-level DFW and DFWU rates (U=unsatisfactory score in pass/fail courses).

5. Results: What did we find?

Preliminary results were presented in August 2020 at the Distance Teaching and Learning Conference.