The Relationship of Demographic and Academic Characteristics on Student Academic Success Rates When Using Web-Based Delivery Modalities
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Online distance education classes and digital learning tools offer substantial advantages to both students and universities. Institutional benefits include the facilitation of student success in large classes, reducing university expenses, and perhaps even enhancing the students’ learning environment. Students benefit from the convenience of scheduling and reduced travel time and many researchers found no significant difference in student learning outcomes between face-to-face classes and online classes on an aggregate or summative level. However, other researchers question the academic success of some students enrolled in online classes based on certain demographic and academic characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status (SES), and grade point average (GPA). Despite the role demographic factors may play in learning outcomes, limited research is available investigating whether the online learning modality is equally effective for students of different ages and ethnicities, men as compared to women, and previously high performing and low performing students. Much of the research related to online learning has limitations falling into two primary categories: studies comparing primarily face-to-face courses with online classes without including the analysis of hybrid learning; and studies that examine student outcomes at the aggregate level of success without outcomes broken out by specific demographic and academic characteristics. This research sought to remedy these important gaps by examining student learning outcomes in hybrid and online accounting classes based on demographic groupings. This study evaluated whether students’ demographic and academic characteristics, (i.e., their age, gender, race/ethnicity, SES, and GPA) mediated whether they were as successful in online versus hybrid classes.The most salient finding revealed in this study was the contrast in the students’ performance based on delivery modality. The results indicated that students earned almost 30 points higher in their final scores when they were enrolled in the hybrid classes in contrast to enrollment in the online classes. This difference in student scores based on delivery modality was found in almost every student demographic.